Cheney School District

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Communications and Updates

October 23, 2020

Parents and Guardians,

 

Cheney Public Schools has implemented many health and safety protocols as staff members returned to our buildings in August, and as we started phasing our youngest learners and students furthest from educational justice into our schools this fall.  These protocols include daily health screenings and attestations, wearing face coverings, maintaining six feet of physical distance, frequent handwashing, implementing classroom, building, and transportation cleaning protocols, and keeping cohorts of students together as much as possible.  Along with following these protocols, we continue to follow the guidance from OSPI, the state DOH, and SRHD. 

 

The risk of potential COVID-19 cases within our schools is greatly minimized through the protocols listed above, yet we are unable to completely eliminate all risk.  Thus, an important aspect of our reopening process is creating a COVID data dashboard to share information with our staff, parents, and community.  We have launched the dashboard today and it can be found on our district website under the COVID Data Dashboard quick link.  The purpose of the dashboard is to provide transparency and share any positive COVID cases we have in our district and the number of on-site students and staff who may be in quarantine due to close contact within one of our facilities.  The dashboard will also list the current total number of on-site students and staff who are within a building each week.  The dashboard will be managed in a way that protects the privacy of all students and staff while providing up to date COVID-19 information.

 

If you have specific questions about the COVID-19 dashboard, please call our district office at 509-559-4502 or email me directly at rroettger@cheneysd.org

 

Take care and enjoy the first snowfall of the year!

 

Rob Roettger, Superintendent 

Parents and Guardians,

 

I hope your week is off to a great start and that you are all healthy and doing well.  In this update I will share information about the next steps and timeline for phasing additional students into our schools as well as information about secondary staff, student, and parent surveys.

 

1st and 2nd grade phase-in

As we have continued to work through the COVID-19 situation, much of our recent focus has been on identifying ways to safely bring students who are furthest from educational justice and our youngest learners (P-2) on-site for in-person instruction.  Last week, as part of the reopening process, we were able to successfully phase kindergarten students into our elementary schools (families who have selected the in person learning option).  Moving forward, we are planning to phase our first grade students back into our schools the week of November 2nd and our 2nd grade students back into our schools the week of November 9th.  As we do so we will continue to offer both teacher-led and self-paced distance learning options for 1st and 2nd grade families who choose these options.  Below is the specific timeline and plan for the upcoming 1st and 2nd grade phase-in. 

 

1st grade – Friday, October 30th will be an asynchronous learning day for 1st grade students and a training/preparation day for 1st grade teachers. Half of first grade students will begin on Monday, November 2 (Cohort A), the second half on November 3 (Cohort B), and all first grade students on November 4. 

 

2nd grade – Friday, November 6th will be an asynchronous learning day for 2nd grade students and a training/preparation day for 2nd grade teachers. Half of second grade students will begin on Monday, November 9 (Cohort A), the second half on November 10 (Cohort B), and all second grade students on Thursday, November 12.  As a reminder Wednesday, November 11 is Veterans Day and there will be no school.  

 

While bringing additional students back into our schools is exciting, we also know each transition can cause stress and apprehension as this is yet another change for our families and system.  Consequently, we are working hard to minimize the disruptions that will occur for students as we determine class lists and staffing assignments for first and second grade.  Having said this, there will most likely be some class adjustments as we work to provide in-person, and teacher-led and self-paced distance learning models.  Specific information related to 1st and 2nd grade cohorts, asynchronous learning days, and other important information related to the upcoming phase-in will come directly from your child’s school. 

 

When phasing additional students into our schools, bus routes and pick-up and drop off times may be altered for those families who rely on district transportation.  Our transportation department is working hard to create updated routes and will communicate changes with our families as soon as possible.  If you have questions related to busing changes, please contact our transportation department at 509-559-4523.

 

Surveys 

Today is the 33rd day of the 2020-2021 school year and we are approaching the end of the first quarter for our secondary schools and students.  Consequently, we are surveying staff members, parents, and students in order to receive valuable input and feedback (grades 6-12).  This data will help us identify things that are going well and possible areas we can refine as we continue to support students in a mostly distance learning model.  Although the current surveys are focused on our secondary schools, we plan to provide a survey to elementary staff members and parents during our upcoming conferences in November (more information to come soon). 

In closing, I want to recognize that not much has been “normal” or “typical” about the past seven months and the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.  There is a lot of stress in our world due to a variety of issues and this can make it difficult for many of us to maintain a hopeful outlook and positive attitude.  Personally, I know there are many days when I have to remind myself to choose hope and to dwell on the positive things that occur each day.  I appreciate the grace and patience that has been extended to our district as we continue to work through the pandemic and support our students, families, and community.  Together we are doing a GREAT job! -- Please take a moment to watch a short video at the link below.  (Good job, Alicia Keys – Cover by One Voice Children’s Choir)

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkDNp4ATCso

 

Take care and have a great week!

Rob Roettger, Superintendent

Parents, Guardians, and Staff Members,

 

Although difficult to believe, the first month of the school year is complete and it is now October. 

 

Last week I shared preliminary information related to phasing students back into our schools, and following the September 30th approval by our Board of Directors we will start to implement the updated district reopening plan next week.  Beginning October 5th our ECEAP pre-school students will participate in two half days of on-site instruction per week and K-5 students who receive special education support (less than 50% of their school day) will be on site one half day per week.  In addition, kindergarten will begin on-site October 12th for those families who have selected in person instruction.  In order to support our kindergarten transition half of the students will attend on October 12th (cohort A), half will attend on October 13th (cohort B), and all kinder students who chose in-person instruction will be on-site daily beginning Wednesday, October 14th.  As a school district we understand the importance of walking students to their class, especially on the first day of on-site instruction.  However, as part of our health and safety protocols we ask that parents remain outside of the building to take their first day pictures, share their final encouraging words, and say their goodbyes prior to their student entering the building.  Although this is not the traditional routine we follow, our schools are working on specific drop off and pick up protocols that will welcome and support our families and students during the transition to on-site learning (individual schools will provide detailed information). 

Other important information:

  • As we phase students back onto our campuses, it is important to note that all health and safety protocols established by the state DOH, OSPI, and Spokane Regional Health District are still in place.  Thus, daily health screenings, wearing face coverings, maintaining six feet of physical distance, and other cleaning and health protocols are required. 
  • Whether your children are in a teacher-paced class, self-paced class, or on-site student attendance will be taken daily. It is extremely important that your child is checking in each school day. Absences should be called in to the school attendance secretary in a traditional manner.
  • Within the 2020-2021 school calendar Friday, October 9th is a non-school day for students and staff.  Therefore, our regular meal distribution will occur on Monday and Wednesday of next week.  During Wednesday’s distribution families will receive three sets of meals to compensate for Friday’s non-school day. 

 

In closing, I appreciate everyone’s can do attitude and the grace that has been extended during the past six months of the COVID-19 situation.  While there have been obstacles to overcome we have made significant progress within our distance learning model and we are excited to begin phasing students back into our schools as the health situation allows. 

 

I hope everyone has a restful weekend and that you are able to enjoy the beautiful fall weather that is in the forecast. 

 

Take care,

Rob Roettger

Superintendent, Cheney Public Schools

Dear Parents and Guardians,

 

This week we have been planning to bring more students back to our schools in person based on the new guidance from Dr. Lutz at the Spokane Regional Health District. The new guidance specifically allows local districts to start bringing back our youngest learners. As part of the District’s continued planning process, last night we shared a draft reopening document for stage 4 of our plan with our Board of Directors.  Stage 4 includes expanded in-person learning for preschool students, K-5 students who receive special services, and kindergarten students.

 

If you have a preschool student or student with an IEP, you will be contacted by staff from our Student Support Services office.

 

All parents of kindergarten students who registered for school with a plan to return in person this year will be contacted by school personnel within the next two business days.  If you are unsure of whether or not your child’s kindergarten class is one that is scheduled to return in person, please contact the teacher for clarification.

 

If you are the parent of a kindergarten student who is in a class that will remain in distance learning through the rest of the school year but would like to explore the option of returning in person, please call your school’s main office and ask for the head secretary or principal.

 

Please refer to the following timeline for specifics about when groups of students will return to school in person:

Monday, October 5th

  • Initiate phasing in ECEAP Pre-K students.
 
Wednesday, October 7th
  • Expand services for K-5 students who receive 50% or more of their instruction in special education (From the current M/W/F schedule to M-F full days).  
  • Initiate phase in of all K-5 students who receive special education services for less than 50% of the school day.   Students will be scheduled on-site for one half day per week.

 

Monday, October 12th

  • First day of on-site kindergarten for all students who have chosen to return from distance learning.  

 

In addition to the summarized plan outlined above, we will continue to work with the Spokane Regional Health District to determine when we can phase additional students back into our schools.  The initial focus will be on 1st and 2nd grade in phase one of the plan. 

 

There are many more details in the revised plan related to grades 3-5 and 6-12.  As the immediate focus will be on our youngest learners and students who receive special services, I will share additional specific information about grades 3 – 12 in subsequent communications.

 

It was exciting to have some students back on campus this week to receive special services and I am looking forward to safely phasing additional students into our schools in the coming weeks.

 

As always, please call or email if you have specific questions related to our updated plan.

 

Have a great weekend!

Rob Roettger

Superintendent, Cheney Public Schools

 

September 8, 2020

 

Parents, Guardians, and Staff Members,

 

In my communication on Friday I mentioned a district helpline to support families as we begin the school year in a distance learning model.  The helpline will be live starting tomorrow morning by calling 509-559-4375 and will be available on school days from 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.  This resource will be staffed with district staff members who will be available to answer questions related to technology and learning needs.  The helpline contains a variety of menu options that will help us provide the appropriate support and resources.  Families can also leave a message outside of daily scheduled times and a return response will be provided within 24 hours. 

 

Although there were still struggles with power and internet outages, my sincere hope is that each and every student had an excellent day today and that the helpline that has been created will serve as an important additional resource for our families. 

 

Take care and have a great evening,

 

Rob Roettger

Superintendent, Cheney Public Schools

Parents, Guardians, and Staff Members,

 

I want to thank our staff members, students, and parents for an outstanding three days of conferences this past week as we prepare to begin the school year in a distance learning model.   While there may not be a traditional start to the school year, I look forward to Tuesday, September 8th and the opportunity for our staff and students to reconnect as we resume teaching and learning activities.

 

In order to support our students and families during our distance learning model, we are creating a district helpline service.  Our hope is to have this service live by the end of the day on Tuesday.  The purpose of the helpline is to answers questions and connect our students and families with the appropriate resources (technology, tutoring support, etc.).  I will share specific information related to the helpline when it is up and running next week.  In addition to the helpline option, please visit our website at www.cheneysd.org or contact your child’s school for additional information and support. 

As a district we continue to meet weekly with the Spokane Regional Health Department and closely monitor the COVID-19 health situation within our county.  As a reminder, a county is considered to have high COVID activity if there are more than 75 new cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week period.  A month ago the rate per 100,000 in the county was over 230.  However, as of September 2nd the COVID data has improved to 100 new cases per 100,000 residents.  Thus, as a community and region we are making good progress.  While the progress is encouraging, we have also seen COVID-19 rates increase following holiday weekends.  Therefore, I urge everyone to continue to follow health guidance related to gatherings, physical distancing, face coverings, and hand washing.  Together we can reduce COVID rates which will ultimately allow us to determine safe ways to continue to reopen our schools. 

 

While I truly wish we were beginning the school year in a “regular” manner, I know our teachers, administrators, and all staff members have been working hard to provide a high-quality distance learning experience for each of our students.  As we get started there will be bumps in the road, however, as a district we are committed to working through each and every issue in support of our students and families.  Thank you for your patience and grace as we continue to address the many issues associated with this health crisis.  And, please remember, this situation is temporary and we WILL get through it together.

 

I hope everyone has a safe and relaxing Labor Day weekend! 

 

Take Care,

Rob Roettger, Superintendent

Dear Parents and Guardians,

 

In preparation for the upcoming school year staff members have spent a significant amount of time participating in professional learning and preparing to support students and families within our distance learning model.  Professional learning has taken place over the course of five full days with a focus on health and safety considerations, on-line teaching methods and support, and addressing the social and emotional learning needs of our students.

 

As we approach the start of the school year in a distance learning model it is important for each student and family to have the opportunity to meet with teachers.  To do so, we have scheduled conferences over the course of three days (September 1 – 3) which will provide each student, parent, and guardian the opportunity to participate in a virtual meeting with staff members. Conferences will create connections between students and teachers, outline distance learning expectations, and allow staff to answer any questions related to our teacher led or student paced learning models.  Additional information related to scheduling conference dates and times will be provided by each individual school or teacher.

 

Technology distribution for students in need of a device will occur on Friday, August 28th and Monday, August 31st.  At this time, we are also identifying ways to support families in need of connectivity support.  We currently have 110 hot spots (100 Verizon and 10 AT&T) and the State of Washington is working on a platform to provide connectivity to families who do not have an internet connection (more information to come soon on how to apply for this program).  Overall, our goal is to assist each family with the technology necessary to participate in our distance learning model.  If connectivity isn’t possible due to a lack of internet or cell phone availability, we will work with families to provide options within the school they attend. 

  

It is extremely important to offer learning options during the 2020-2021 school year as we support each family and their unique circumstances.  While choices are important, the multiple learning options have created several staffing and scheduling challenges.  Our building administrators have worked hard to address each issue in order to provide the teacher led, self-paced, and year-long on-line possibilities.  Specifically, the self-paced and year-long on-line options will require staffing flexibility, especially at the elementary level.  While all elementary students will remain registered in their neighborhood schools, our self-paced courses will include students from multiple elementary schools.  Students may also be assigned to a classroom teacher from a different elementary school.  These changes are temporary and meant to support the various needs that exist across the district as we begin the school year.  Students registered for the self-paced model with the intent to return when we are safely able, will return to their neighborhood school once on-campus classes resume.  Specific information related to each of the models offered and classroom lists will be provided by each of our schools. 

 

While we are beginning the year in a distance learning model, we will continue to analyze the COVID-19 situation within Spokane County with a goal of phasing students back into our schools when it is safe to do so.  Parents and staff will receive updates related to the county health situation and adequate notice of plans to move into additional phases of our district conditional reopening plan (attached).  District Conditional Reopening Plan.pdf 

 

I understand that the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year will present some unique challenges for everyone.  While this may be the case, our staff members are preparing to meet the learning and social and emotional needs of each of our students through the changes we face.  I appreciate your patience and grace while we continue to work through the many issues associated with the COVID-19 health crisis.  If you have specific questions related to the beginning of the school year, or our district’s conditional reopening plan, please contact your child’s school or call our district office at 509-559-4502.

 

Take care and stay well,

Rob Roettger, Superintendent

August 13, 2020

 

Parents, Guardians, and Staff Members,

 

Last night a registration form link and several documents and videos related to elementary, middle school, and high school schedules were emailed to parents, guardians, and staff members.  Throughout the day there have been several questions related to the schedules that were presented. 

 

The teacher-paced model provides students with the structure of a regular school day and the opportunity to interact with teachers and students in a virtual platform.  While there will be many opportunities to interact virtually, there is not an expectation that students engage in 7 hours of screen time each day.  Rather, our teaching staff will manage lessons, activities, and small group support and the school day in a manner that appropriately aligns with the developmental levels of our students. 

 

While the hope is that as many students as possible participate in the teacher-paced model to access the many supports we can provide, we also know this daily school schedule may not work for some students and families (particularly for elementary students with parents who work during the school day).  Thus, we know the importance of offering a self-paced learning model for families who need this option for scheduling flexibility.  Having said this, the desire is that as many of our middle and high school students as possible will participate in the teacher-paced model to ensure a daily routine, school structure and constructive interaction. 

 

I am hopeful this message, along with the attachment, brings clarity to the teacher-paced and self-paced schedule models as families complete the on-line registration form in a way that best fits their situation.  As a reminder, we ask that you complete the registration form for each of your school age children no later than Sunday, August 16th.  This information allows us to begin staffing our schools appropriately and preparing for school to start.

 

Thank you for your patience and understanding while we continue to prepare for the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.

 

Take care,

Rob Roettger, Superintendent

August 12, 2020

 

Parents, Guardians, and Staff Members,

 

Plans continue to come together each and every day as we prepare for a distance learning start to the 2020-2021 school year.  While we may begin the year in a distance learning model, I remain hopeful that the COVID-19 health situation will improve in our county and region so that we can gradually and safely provide on-site services and support for our students in alignment with the stages in our conditional reopening plan. 

 

In preparation for the start of the school year it is important that we have specific enrollment and technology needs information from each of our families.  Thus, today we are providing an electronic 2020-2021 registration form for existing Cheney Public Schools students to be completed as soon as possible, but no later than Sunday, August 16th.  The intent of the registration process is to identify which students will attend distance learning throughout the entire school year, which students will participate in daily synchronous on-line instruction (follow a regular schedule taught by our staff), which students will need to engage in a self-paced on-line model with limited teacher and peer interactions (availability will be contingent upon our staffing levels and will be considered through an application process), and which students will not be returning to our distance model (choosing a homeschool or other option).  The registration process will also help us gather information related to internet connectivity and the number of devices that will be needed by each family.  Although we have ordered 2,500 additional Chromebooks, our order has been postponed twice thus far.  While we believe we have an adequate number of devices (approximately 3,000) to support all of the technology needs within the district, it will be helpful if those students who have personal devices are able to use them to start the school year.

 

Included with this message is a copy of our proposed reopening schedules, a video from our Director of Teaching and Learning, Annie Wolfley, introducing each schedule, and a link to the registration form.  If you have specific questions related to the registration process or schedules, please call your child’s school directly or our district office at 509-559-4502.

 

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to work toward the beginning of the school year.  In the coming days, additional 2020-2021 school year information will be shared by each of our schools and our district office.

 

Take care and stay well,

 

Rob Roettger, Superintendent

Registration Form Link for existing students to be completed no later than Sunday, August 16, 2020:

August 4, 2020

 

Parents and Guardians,

 

Due to the current status of the COVID-19 situation in our county, and a recommendation from the Spokane Regional Health Department, a decision was made yesterday to begin the upcoming school year in a distance learning model.  While we have been working on the possibility of many on-site options for the fall, we have also known that a distance learning model has been a possibility due to the evolving health situation in our region, state, and nation.

 

This spring our staff members were placed in a difficult position as teaching transitioned from in person traditional instruction to a remote support model without time to adequately prepare.  As we approach the upcoming school year, we have the opportunity to plan, prepare, and create a distance learning model that provides the necessary support for our students, staff, and families.  With your support, the District has also purchased 370 laptops for teachers and 2,500 additional Chromebooks for students (bringing our total to 4,800). 

 

In preparation for the possibility of distance learning we had approximately 95 teachers and administrators participate in four trainings this spring with our local ESD.  The trainings focused on creating a remote learning system, creating collaborative teams, integrating content and project based learning, and assessment.  In addition, we have launched a distance learning workgroup consisting of over 40 staff members.    The workgroup is focusing on the structure of the on-line classroom and weekly expectations for teachers and students in a distance learning model. 

 

In order to provide the necessary training and support for staff members, students, and families we have altered our 2020-2021 school calendar.  Within the calendar we have front-loaded four professional development days for staff in August (with the possibility of a fifth day) and have created three days (September 1 – 3) to use as conference type days to meet with and support parents and students (either virtually or in-person).  September 8th will now be the first day of distance learning. 

 

There will be much more information provided in the coming days and weeks related to our distance learning model and our plan to support students and families.  While our focus at this time is creating the best possible distance learning model, we will also continue to work on plans related to when we are able to bring students back on campus as the health situation allows. 

 

I know there are many concerns related to schedules and child care issues for our families as we approach a distance learning model in the fall.  Thus, it will be essential that we reach out to our community partners to identify potential child care options that exist within our communities.  We will share information and options as it becomes available. 

The updated 2020-2021 school calendar is attached to this email and will also be included on our website under our Re-Opening Schools quick link.

 

We will be holding a parent and community webinar to share information on reopening schools on Wednesday, August 5 at 6:00 p.m.  Follow the link below this message to join the webinar.

 

Take care,

Rob Roettger

Superintendent, Cheney Public Schools

August 3, 2020
 

Parents, Guardians, and Staff Members,

 

This afternoon we received approval from our Board of Directors to move forward with a conditional reopening plan for the 2020-2021 school year.  The concept behind a conditional plan is to align reopening stages and opportunities to the current COVID-19 health situation within Spokane County, using metrics that will soon be provided by the state department of health (DOH).  The district’s conditional reopening plan is attached to this email and is also available on our website under the Re-Opening Schools quick link. 

 

While planning for the start of the school year it has been important to work with our regional health department to determine how and when we can safely reopen our schools.  This morning, superintendents in Spokane County received a letter and reopening recommendation from Dr. Lutz from the Spokane Regional Health Department (letter attached).  Dr. Lutz’s recommendation is as follows, “Based on our rates, the existing science regarding COVID-19, and school reopening, I strongly recommend beginning the year in remote/continuous learning for all students. Consider in-person learning for those who have special health or education needs that cannot be delivered through remote learning.”  Due to the guidance from Dr. Lutz, and our sincere desire to ensure a safe learning environment for staff and students, we will begin the upcoming school year in a distance learning model.  Specifically (unless directed otherwise in the next few weeks), we will begin the year in stage three of our reopening plan.

 

This is very difficult news to share as I know our students need and want to be in school and back on campus.  While this is our desire the COVID-19 situation within our county continues to escalate, thus not allowing in-person school to occur at this time.  As an example, there were 146 new COVID cases reported on Friday alone.  Prior to Memorial day there were 432 total cases in all of Spokane County and there have been 3,384 since.  Thus, in his recommendation Dr. Lutz stated, “Given the current high level and upward trajectory of COVID-19 rates in Spokane County, cases and outbreaks in schools will likely occur. These could negatively impact community-wide efforts to lower rates, would impose considerable demands and instability on school operations and conceivably outpace our collective efforts to control the pandemic”.

I know there will be many questions related to our conditional reopening plan, distance learning, and the beginning of the school year.  Therefore, we will hold a webinar to provide additional information for parents and guardians on Wednesday, August 5th at 6:00 p.m.  The link to the webinar will be emailed tomorrow.  We will also record the webinar and post a link to our website so anyone who cannot attend on Wednesday evening has access to the presentation.  In addition, we will plan for continued weekly updates as specific information is available to share. 

Thank you for your participation in surveys and Thought Exchange activities throughout the spring and summer.  The input provided by families has been very helpful in our planning process and is reflected in the conditional reopening plan. 

 

While we encountered a temporary setback today, as a district we are committed to continuing to work through this situation to provide the best possible learning opportunities and support for our students and families.  As you know, our community has rallied together throughout this health crisis and it will be extremely important that we continue to do so as our children are relying on our continued and collective efforts. 

 

Take care,

US/WE/TOGETHER

Rob Roettger, Superintendent

July 31, 2020

 

Parents, Guardians, and Staff Members,

 

I hope everyone has been able to find safe ways to stay cool during this extremely hot week.  In addition to the warm temperatures, our central office team has been feeling the heat and pressure as we continue to work toward a plan for the 2020-2021 school year. 

 

As part of our continued planning for the 2020-2021 school year our district reopening committee met on Wednesday and reviewed the Thoughtexchange and survey data received from staff members.  In addition, we shared preliminary information with the committee related to a conditional reopening plan for the 2020-2021 school year.  The concept behind a conditional plan is aligning reopening stages and opportunities to the current COVID-19 health situation within the county, and to a metric that will be provided by the state department of health (DOH). This metric should be available early next week.   

 

It is important that we are prepared to provide remote learning support for families who choose this option, and that we prepare for the possibility that our entire system could be forced into remote learning by the COVID-19 situation.  Thus, we have created a remote learning workgroup.  The workgroup consists of over forty staff members representing elementary, middle, and high school staff.  The group is now breaking into smaller workgroups to begin working on the structure of the online classroom and weekly expectations for students and staff.  While everyone did their best under difficult circumstances last spring, we want to ensure we are preparing to support staff, students and parents with remote learning in a consistent manner that aligns with the feedback we have received.

 

On Monday, August 3rd we will present our reopening stages plan for the 2020-2021 school year to our Board of Directors and then share it publicly following their consideration.  While an initial plan will be shared Monday evening, there is still a lot of work to do as we continue to address remote learning support, specific hybrid possibilities, and many other operational details.  Thus, in the days and weeks following August 3rd, additional specific information will be provided frequently, and as it is available. 

 

In closing, please know we are working hard to establish safe learning options for all students for the beginning of the school year and that we are preparing to be as flexible as possible to meet the ever-changing health situation within our county, region, and state. 

 

I hope each of you has a restful and enjoyable weekend.

 

Take care,

US/WE/TOGETHER

Rob Roettger, Superintendent

July 24, 2020

 

Parents, Guardians, and Staff Members,

 

The health and social/emotional well-being of the students, staff, and families of Cheney Public Schools are of utmost importance, and as the Reopening Cheney Schools Committee plans for the upcoming school year, gathering input has been a top priority.  Last week another survey was emailed to parents and guardians with options to respond through a link or over the phone.  The purpose of the survey was to gain the most current thoughts about how families would like students to learn in the fall, as well as to understand changes in thinking since the first survey of families was conducted in June.  Responses were received for 68% of our students (3,890 total).  The greatest shifts in thinking were either toward distance learning or toward a hybrid model that would include a combination of in-person and distance learning.  Overall, of the 3,890 responses, 1,606 (41%) requested a full time in person opening, 1,160 (30%) requested a hybrid option (combination of on-site and distance learning), 912 (23.5%) requested an on-line option, and 212 (5.5%) expressed a desire for other possibilities.  The committee recognizes that some subgroups may not have been proportionally represented in the survey, and a follow-up phone survey of potentially underrepresented student groups will take place early next week.  The survey data will be updated as additional responses are collected. 

 

This week our district reopening committee met on Wednesday and reviewed information and feedback from three separate workgroups related to a full time in person opening, a K-5 on-site and 6-12 hybrid, and a K-12 hybrid option.  Moving forward, the district reopening group will meet again on Wednesday, July 29th and we have begun the process of creating a Remote Learning Workgroup as well.  We are committed to creating a robust Remote Learning program that will include online instruction for parents who choose this option, and to support our students and families if there is a future school closure.  At this time, the Remote Learning Workgroup is scheduled to meet on July 30, August 4, and August 6. 

 

As part of our continued planning for the fall we held a Zoom meeting with a parent focus group on Thursday evening to gather input.  In addition, we initiated a Thoughtexchange and survey with staff members as we continue to gather feedback and important information.  The Reopening Cheney Schools Committee will use the various survey results and Thoughtexchange feedback in combination with many other sources of information and data, including input from parent and staff focus groups, to make decisions about the safest and most effective ways for students to return to learning in the fall.

 

An important aspect of planning for the 2020-2021 school year is understanding the COVID-19 health situation in our region.  Thus, I have been participating in weekly meetings with Dr. Lutz and Mark Springer of the Spokane Regional Health Department.  These meetings provide information related to current COVID-19 data, and the opportunity to ask questions and receive feedback on learning options for our students.  We have meetings scheduled each Wednesday for the foreseeable future. 

 

In closing, as a district we continue to focus our time and effort toward the creation of a 2020-2021 school year plan which will be shared with our Board of Directors for consideration on Monday, August 3rd and then with our community and parents later that evening. 

 

I hope each of you has a restful and enjoyable weekend.

 

Take care,

US/WE/TOGETHER

Rob Roettger, Superintendent
On July 23, 2020 a Zoom meeting was held with a group of parents from all grade band levels to share the work that has been done so far in the planning for reopening schools and gather their thoughts, concerns, and input.  Below is the information that was shared by the district during the meeting.
 

Survey Link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfIHa8pB3qnGe4yP7MpjtZ1V1CKoCp7j89Ww5dYSVF7bR7zfA/viewform?usp=sf_link

 

July 17, 2020

 

Parents and Guardians,

 

In order to inform the work of the Cheney Public Schools reopening committee, you are invited to complete the following anonymous survey for each child in your household by Monday, July 20.  The committee would like to hear from all families in order to have the most accurate and up to date information as possible as it moves to make recommendations about learning opportunities for students in the fall.  The committee realizes the public health situation continues to evolve in our region and state, and your thinking may have changed since the original survey to families was conducted in June. Even if you already  completed an earlier survey, we would greatly appreciate your participation in this one as well.  In addition, the committee asks that you encourage other families you know with students attending Cheney Public Schools to complete this survey.  

 

If you would prefer to give your responses over the phone, please call 509-559-4580 to request this option.

 

If you have questions related to the survey, please contact our Director of Data and Assessment, Carol Lewis, at calewis@cheneysd.org

 

Thank you in advance for your participation.

Rob Roettger, Superintendent 

Parents, Guardians, and Staff Members,

 

It has been a busy week as we continue to plan for the start of the 2020-2021 school year, and monitor and analyze the COVID-19 situation in our region and state.

 

As part of our ongoing planning process the district reopening committee met on Wednesday morning and split into subgroups to consider three school options for the fall.  The options include on-site in person instruction (based upon families who would return in person), a K-12 hybrid option (a split schedule that would include some in-person learning and some learning from home), and a K-5 on-site and 6-12 hybrid option.  Following Wednesday’s meeting, subgroups have and will continue to meet in preparation for the next whole group meeting on Wednesday, July 22ndIn addition to the on-site possibilities mentioned above, we know there are families who prefer an on-line learning option at this time.  Thus, in the coming weeks we will be working to create a robust on-line system in support of families who prefer this type of learning platform.    

 

An important aspect of preparing for the 2020-2021 school year is determining ways to mitigate the health risks associated with COVID-19.  One portion of our overall health and safety planning is ensuring we have an appropriate supply of PPE (personal protective equipment).  Currently we have 7,000 reusable cloth face coverings, and have ordered an additional 3,000 adult and 8,000 youth face coverings.  We have also ordered 500 reusable face shields, 2,000 disposable face masks (1,000 youth and 1,000 adult), and 100 transparent face masks.   In addition, we have ordered 100 8 oz bottles, 1,000 16 oz bottles, and 1,000 one gallon bottles of hand sanitizer, and hand sanitizing stations will be provided in each building entryway.  A variety of other PPE items in support of student and staff safety have also been ordered (non-contact thermometers, disinfecting wipes, and KN95 masks).  The PPE has been ordered through a statewide cooperative and we expect delivery of items by August 20th.  

 

In an effort to assist the district in understanding the number of parents who would prefer some form of on-site instruction in the fall, and those who would prefer a strictly on-line option, we emailed a second parent survey this morning.  It is critical that we have as many parents as possible complete the survey so that we have accurate data to analyze as part of our ongoing planning process.  Therefore, I am urging each of you to take a few minutes to complete the survey prior to 4:00 p.m. on Monday, July 20th.  In addition to the survey, we are creating a parent advisory group with representatives from each of our schools to analyze reopening options.  We will also provide opportunities for parent, staff, and community feedback through upcoming webinars/Zoom meetings.  Specific information about ways to provide input and feedback related to the start of 2020-2021 school year will be shared at the beginning of next week.

 

In closing, I understand the stress and concern our families and staff face as we consider what our education system will look like in the fall. Please know we are committed to developing multiple options in support of student learning and that we are working hard to have a formal plan to share with the community by August 3rd.

 

Take care and have a great weekend,

US/WE/TOGETHER

Rob Roettger, Superintendent
July 14, 2020
 
Parents and Guardians,
 

Although I shared information related to the reopening of schools with you on Friday, I would like to share additional information today as planning continues.

 

Providing for the safety of our staff and students is of utmost importance as we consider ways to bring students back on campus for the start of the school year.  Having said this, I know the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve in Spokane County, our state, and nation.  Consequently, it is essential that regional COVID data is continually monitored. Allison Hahn and NEWESD 101 school nurse team leader Alma McNamee are carrying out this monitoring process. Consulting with the Spokane Regional Health District as part of the planning and monitoring process is crucial as well.  Thus, I have a scheduled meeting with Dr. Lutz and Mark Springer from SRHD tomorrow afternoon via a zoom call.  

 

As a next step in our planning, the district reopening committee is breaking into three smaller work groups tomorrow to consider three options for the start of the school year.  The options under consideration at this time include on-site in person instruction (based upon approximately 70% of families who said they would attend in person), a K-12 hybrid option (a split schedule that would include some in-person learning and some learning from home), and a K-5 on-site and 6-12 hybrid option.  The smaller work groups will consider positives, negatives, questions, and a variety of possibilities within each of the options.  Regardless of what on site learning looks like in the fall, we also know there will be a need for a full-time on-line program as 18% of our parents recently shared that they would prefer on-line instruction.  Feedback from families over the weekend indicated some families that originally said they would prefer in-person instruction are reconsidering due to the increased number of recently confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our region.

 

A significant consideration related to reopening possibilities is the number of students and staff that could be present on any given district site while maintaining compliance with the 6’ physical distancing guidance from OSPI and the DOH.  To understand how the 6’ distancing guidelines would impact classrooms our assistant superintendent, Tom Arlt, has collaborated with principals to set up several mock classrooms in each building that meet the distancing requirements.  We will be providing a video link on our website under the newly developed Reopening Schools tab to demonstrate classroom capacity within the physical distancing guidelines.  While identifying the capacity of our schools within the OSPI/DOH guidance allows us to understand the occupancy that is possible, it does not mean the district has committed to a reopening plan based upon these occupancy rates.  

 

In preparation for the start of the school year 370 laptops for teachers (including monitors and docking stations for classrooms) and 2,500 additional Chromebooks for student use have been ordered.  The additional Chromebooks will bring the total number to approximately 4,800 throughout the district.  This technology upgrade will allow us to better support students on site, and during remote learning.  Technology purchases were supported by the Capital Levy voters approved last November and by federal CARES act funding.   

 

As planning continues central office administrators are meeting daily, and the whole reopening committee will meet at least once a week through the end of July.  The committee will have a formal proposal for staff and community consideration and feedback by July 23rd. In addition to the current committee members, we will continue to identify ways to receive input from parents, staff members, and students in the coming weeks (more information to come soon). The current goal is to have a finalized reopening plan to share with staff and families by August 3rd.

 

As mentioned in Friday’s message, I will continue to provide updates each week as new information is available related to our 2020-2021 school year planning.  I encourage you to visit the district website at www.cheneysd.org and review the reopening schools tab for more frequent updates and planning information.

 

Take care!

US/WE/TOGETHER

Rob Roettger

Superintendent, Cheney Public Schools

July 10, 2020

 

Parents, Guardians, and Staff Members,

 

The committee for reopening Cheney Public Schools is working to understand the needs of our students, families, staff, and the communities we serve in order to make informed decisions about how school will look in the fall. In June we surveyed all families to gain a preliminary understanding of their plans for the next school year.  Parents were asked to consider the state guidance for reopening schools, which includes physical distancing requirements and the use of face coverings, when answering questions about whether they planned to send their children to school in person this fall, would prefer a rigorous online learning program provided through Cheney Public Schools, or would like another option.  Responses were received for 45% of our students with 69% of those families saying they would like to return to school in person under the current guidelines, 18% indicating they would like to access a rigorous online learning option, and 13% responding they would prefer something different than either of those two choices.  The reopening committee is using the parent survey information to direct its initial planning and will continue to gather information from parents, students, staff, and our communities as the important work of planning safe, caring, and robust learning opportunities for our students progresses throughout the summer. 

 

As part of our continued planning the committee for reopening Cheney Public Schools met on Wednesday, July 8th.  The committee currently consists of thirty-two staff members including teachers, classified employees, department directors, and building and central office administrators.  During Wednesday’s meeting the committee provided feedback on a reopening schools guiding principles document, reviewed information related to the physical space of our schools and student attendance possibilities, and analyzed a recent frequently asked questions document (FAQ) from OSPI.

 

The reopening committee will meet again on Wednesday, July 15th and moving forward I will provide weekly updates and communicate opportunities for additional parent, staff, student, and community input and involvement in the reopening planning process.

 

In closing, please know we are working hard to open our schools for face to face, in-person instruction for as many students as we safely can, while prioritizing the health and safety of all staff, students, families, and the community.  If you have specific questions related to the reopening planning process, please call me at 509-559-4502 or email me directly.

 

Take care and have a great weekend,

US/WE/TOGETHER

Rob Roettger, Superintendent