05 – COVID-19 Update – April 7 – Communication

April 7, 2020

As we begin the fourth week of school closures, I am grateful for the teamwork that I witness every day. As a school district, we feel a partnership with our parents and the communities that we serve. Over the past few weeks, I have witnessed collaborations between you and our staff that have yielded outcomes that you and the staff can be proud of. As a district, we continue to provide educational enrichment opportunities that align with the educational guidance that we’ve received from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI). Our focus goes beyond academics and includes actions such as providing meals through our grab-and-go pick up programs and communications with students to check in and offer assistance. Thank you for your support as we work together to focus on learning and suppress the spread of the COVID-19 virus.


Based on the Governor’s “Safer at Home” order, “schools will be closed… until at least April 24.” In a recent communication from the DPI, school districts have been encouraged to, “do long-range planning as if students will not be back in school for the rest of this school year.” This is not an official order, but based on the guidance, we are planning accordingly.


On April 14, 2020, we will conduct a special board meeting that will include a briefing to the Board regarding the educational enrichment activities that have been occuring, as well as how the educational plan might be modified. The time of this meeting is yet to be determined. I anticipate that this meeting will include discussions related to student grading, graduation requirements, high school credit, and other aspects related to the educational plan as we move forward. I anticipate that the Board will take action at this meeting relative to the district’s future educational plan for the remainder of this school closure or until further action would be taken to modify that plan. We will be providing parents and community members with the opportunity to share questions/comments as part of a virtual “public comment” portion of this meeting. This will be available on Wednesday, April 8, on our COVID-19 webpage: https://ofpanthers.com/covid-19-updates/.


We are currently developing multiple courses of action to present to the Board that will address how we will work together with our seniors to assist them in successfully completing the course requirements to graduate. These plans will also include how we will work with students in grades 9-11 to successfully earn credit for the second semester of the 2019-2020 school year. Given our alignment with the guidance from the DPI as it relates to education during COVID-19, we anticipate recommending to the Board to continue forward with educational enrichment for students in Pre-K through eighth grade.


As we move forward, communication will continue to be a key aspect to our success. If you and/or your child have not received communication from a teacher or school, please contact your child’s principal so that we can update your contact information and begin working together. Through your assistance we can ensure that your child is receiving the educational materials intended to assist them. I also anticipate that you will continue to get information shared with you from school staff as well as your school principal. This will assist you in understanding the educational supports being shared with your child and will be a resource for your questions.


As we do when school is in session, we will continue to focus on the needs of our students. Given the ever-changing environment that we’re now navigating due to this public health emergency, we will do our best to keep you informed from the classroom, school, and district level. Our staff is available and committed to helping all students and fielding questions to the best of our ability. We strongly encourage all students to be actively engaged in the educational opportunities that are being shared with them. In doing so, students will be better positioned to continue their educational programming when the school closures are lifted and school is back in session.
We are in this together, and together we are stronger.

Dean R. Hess
Oconto Falls Public Schools

*View original copy of communication here.