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Re-opening Update for Parents 10/9/20

Believe it or not, today marks the end of the first 9 weeks of school!  We are now one-fourth of the way through the 2020-2021 school year!  This year has been a success because of all of you – students, parents, and school district employees.

With 86% (over 9,000 students) returning to school through the traditional setting, Walton is one of the highest brick and mortar learning districts in the state.  We appreciate the confidence you have in our district, and we are proud of the low number of COVID-19 situations that we have experienced during the first 9 weeks of school.

In the spirit of transparency, I would like to share the Walton County School District’s COVID-19 data.

COVID-19 Statistics

Today’s Data

(10/9/20)

 

Overall Data to Date

(8/17/20 – 10/9/20)

Positive COVID-19 Cases

of School District Students and/or Employees

 

0

31

Quarantined Due to On Campus Exposure

of School District Students and/or Employees

 

32

56

Quarantined Due to Off Campus Exposure (Community/Family Exposure)

of School District Students and/or Employees

 

0

42

Schools Involved in Positive Cases and/or Exposure

 

1

20

Parents, please know you will be notified if your child has been directly exposed to COVID-19.  The definition of exposure is being less than six feet for more than 15 minutes with a person who has tested positive.  If you have not been notified, then your child has not been directly exposed.

We believe our current success is two-fold.  First, we have stayed the course by following CDC guidelines.  We want to thank school employees, especially bus drivers, custodians, and food service workers, who have followed strict guidelines in cleaning and safety procedures.  Thank you to school nurses and front office staff who have been diligent in checking temperatures and screening students, parents, and employees.  Teachers, teacher aides, and coaches have adjusted to new teaching models while keeping classrooms clean, checking on sick students, and modeling proper protocols.  And finally, we thank school administrators who have provided leadership in balancing safety procedures, academics, extra-curricular activities, and more. 

Second, we believe our success has a lot to do with you as well!  Parents, thank you for being a team player during this pandemic!  Thank you for screening your child at home and for keeping your student home when sick.  Thank you for encouraging your child to wash hands, use hand sanitizer, and wear a mask, when appropriate.  It has been a team approach, and all members of the team are recognized and appreciated!

As the second 9 weeks begins on Monday (and last until December 18th), please know the WCSD will remain vigilant and consistent with CDC guidelines.  Even though the state has moved into Phase 3, we will continue our slow and steady approach, because we believe it is working.  We will base decisions, such as when to welcome volunteers back, on the safety of our students and employees.  

Regarding academics, parents please stay in close contact with your child’s teachers this year.  If your child did not maintain their reading skills and/or math fluency skills during the last 9 weeks of school or over the summer, there may be some catch up that needs to be done.  Please talk with your child’s teacher about where your child stands academically.  Every child in the district has recently completed their first progress monitoring test (STAR), which provides a grade level equivalent score and percentile, in both ELA and Math.  In addition to STAR, please make sure you are aware of your child’s grades and attendance in our FOCUS app or on your child’s report card, which will arrive home on Thursday, October 15th.  

For Innovative Learning Digital Academy (ILDA) parents, thank you for supporting our schools and your teachers.  I have been in classrooms and observed our youngest children attending virtually.  I can’t imagine the discipline it takes to make ILDA a success.   I want to thank both our parents and teachers for working together to make this new modality effective.  Parents, as you look over the COVID-19 data we shared, please remember that ILDA students are welcome back in brick and mortar classrooms at any time. 

Finally, I am thankful for the normalcy that school brings, and I hope you and your family are enjoying school routines and events as well.  It has been great to attend fall sports and enjoy our cooler weather!  It has been great to see pumpkin decorating contests in pre-K, Homecoming activities being planned, and school pictures starting to take place.  As we transition to the second 9 weeks, please know we will continue to make the best decisions for your children and our employees, and we hope school can be the bright spot in your families’ lives.

Moving and Learning in Civics at WMS

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October 12, 2020

Classrooms and schedules look very different this year as WMS has had to modify many of its tried and true practices to meet guidelines to keep students safe.  In one effort to social distance, WMS adopted a block schedule, meaning that classes last twice as long as they have in years past.  Though the new schedule has worked out well so far, students do get restless sitting for nearly two hours straight.  To combat seat fatigue, hardworking seventh grade civics teachers Mrs. Katie Williams and Ms. Regina Messer have put their heads together to create movement and engagement opportunities for students.  This week while reviewing symbolism, bias, and propaganda for nine weeks tests, the teachers got students out of their seats to get their blood flowing.  The teachers created a review game called “Name That Communication” that required students to show their answers by standing up and acting them out.  When a definition or example of bias appeared on the screen, students tapped their heads or pointed to their brains.  For symbolism, students made signs (like peace signs, hearts, or thumbs up ) or struck meaningful poses (like salutes) to represent the term.  And for propaganda, which always prompts people to take action, students had the most fun, either running in place or dancing behind their desks.  The learning activity took place after students had been sitting and learning for quite some time, so it was a welcome opportunity to stand up, stretch, move, and think.  Undoubtedly, 2020 has brought new challenges to education, but WMS teachers are rolling up their sleeves and creating fun solutions to keep minds engaged.

 

 

Superintendent Hughes stopped in unannounced as usual to see Mrs. Weninegar doing a group activity with students, interacted with students changing classes and made a new friend, Jack pictured with Ms. Hannah!  Thanks parents, students, and teachers for staying vigilant with the social distancing even in Phase 3 (guessing 85% wearing mask at DLE during my visit.)  You ALL are EPIC for sure!

In addition to being an “A” district for the 2018-2019 school year, Superintendent A. Russell Hughes proudly announces that the Walton County School District has now also been designated as an

“Academically

High-Performing School District”!

Click the link below for the full article.  

BEAR Time

October 7, 2020

Ms. Lydia Cochran’s class doing 4th grade BEAR time. 

October is National Principal Month!  If you would like to recognize or thank a principal, please text a compliment for your principal at 850.204.9667.

Kindergarten is diving into Technology at MHS!

 

Kindergarten students started working in the computer labs and on logging in to their ClassLink platforms this week at Mossy Head School. This requires them to use a lot of the skills they are learning all at one time: typing on the keyboard, working the mouse, identifying or matching letters and numbers, and following multiple step directions. 

WDE Inquiry and Observation

October 6, 2020

Fourth graders at West DeFuniak Elementary have been learning about physical and chemical changes. Through inquiry and observation, students learned that a physical change is when an object changes but does not turn into a new substance. They did this by placing a gummy bear in water overnight and seeing the result on the following day. Students observed that the gummy bear absorbed the water in the cup and almost doubled in size.  

# Blue Up

Walton District Employees “Go Blue” in recognition of National Bullying Prevention Month!  The first Monday of every October is recognized as World Day of Bullying Prevention. On this day, students, schools and communities all over the world wear BLUE together in solidarity against bullying. Today’s Campaign, #Blue Up kicks off National Bullying Prevention Month.  The organization Stomp Our Bullying is acknowledged as the leading national nonprofit dedicated to changing the culture for all students. The organization works to reduce and prevent bullying in any form in communities across the country. 

Walton District Staff is committed to ensuring our students are educated in bully-free schools that practice our “see something – say something policy.” We wear blue today as an outward allegiance to educate, raise awareness, encourage mindfulness and kindness. That’s the “Walton County Way.”