ROCK SPRINGS – While schools in Sweetwater County School District No. 1 are closed to students through at least April 3, the district outlined the steps it is taking to ensure continued access to school meals, technology and nurses.
“Sweetwater County School District No. 1 will continue to base decisions with the health and well-being of our students, employees and community as our highest priority,” a press release said. “We will practice social distancing as our staff works to ensure services are provided to our students during this unprecedented time. It is through difficult times that we rally and find strength in one another. Let this be an opportunity to show that no act of kindness goes unnoticed.
The district leadership team met virtually to outline the educational process for March 23-27 and March 30 to April 3, 2020, and said multiple plans are in place.
Free meals through Nutrition Services will be available both weeks for all students and any individual under the age of 19, enrolled student or not. All individuals under the age of 19 are eligible to eat for free. This opportunity also includes children that are not school age (such as 3-year-olds, toddlers, etc.). Breakfast and lunch opportunities will be available at the same time, Monday through Friday from 9-10 a.m. at the following sites:
— Rock Springs Municipal Cemetery, 800 Thompson St.
— SCM Parish Center Parking Lot, 633 Bridger Ave.
— Imperial Apartments, Imperial Drive
— Kum & Go (right-hand side), Ninth Street
— Tegler & Associates (across from Grubb’s Drive-In), 1125 Pilot Butte Ave.
— Desert View Elementary School Parking Lot, 1900 Desert Blvd.
— Gateway Trailer Park (the dirt lot), 222 Gateway Blvd.
— Rock Springs High School (garage doors on James Drive), 1375 James Drive
— Overland Elementary School Parking Lot, 3400 Foothill Blvd.
— Winterhawk and Raindance mailboxes
— Volcic Mobile Home Park (by the mailboxes), 166 Foothill Blvd.
— Purple Sage Mobile Home Park (by the mailboxes), 45 Purple Sage Road
— Superior — Berta and Main, Superior
— Point of Rocks (Conoco Station), Point of Rocks
— Farson-Eden School parking lot, Highway 28 Farson
— Desert School (Wamsutter) parking lot, 235 Bugas, Wamsutter
Families will need to practice social distancing when buses arrive for deliveries. Children do not need to be present and breakfast and lunch meals can be picked up by parents/guardians.
The District Information Technology (IT) Department will be distributing devices to students in grades K-6. Kindergarten through third-graders will receive iPads from their classroom, and grades four to six 6 will receive their laptops. Included with this technology will be a letter with directions for care, filtering, cleaning, connecting to wireless, and login information.
The IT go-bag will also contain a badge that can be scanned with the iPad or laptop camera to log students into relevant educational sites. A charger will also be included in the bag. There will be ample technical support available to our students, staff, and families. Information for that may be found at http://www.sweetwater1.org/groups/4798/information_technology/technology_support. Live Chat support with the IT team may be initiated at https://tawk.to/scsd1.it.
This support will be available during regular school hours for each of our school sites beginning March 23, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Families will be able to pick up their IT go-bags at your child’s school from 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, March 24, to pick up your technology and curriculum. Do not exit your vehicle. The equipment will be brought to your car by district staff.
Students in grades 7-12 have individual laptops already provided to them. If students did not bring their device home over the spring break, call the school on Monday, March 23, and let the office staff know. Families will be able to pick up their student laptop at the child’s school from 9 a.m. to noon. on Tuesday, March 24. Please do not exit vehicles. The equipment will be brought to cars by district staff.
Junior and high school students will have access to coursework via Canvas, Google Classroom, Unified Classroom, etc. Additionally, teachers will be using other technology to support two-way interactions between students and teachers.
Students and parents are not allowed in the schools during the closure. This is for safety reasons as the district continues to practice social distancing.
The nurses will be available at the schools from 8-11 a.m. Monday, March 23, and Tuesday, March 24, to provide parents their child’s medications. Please call the school if you need alternative arrangements and when you will be arriving so they can be taken out to you.
The nurses will also be available during the closure by ParentSquare if you have questions and concerns you need to inquire about.
Sweetwater No. 1 is using this opportunity to sanitize and disinfect all of its buildings and buses with approved COVID-19 fighting products. This sanitizing process includes every aspect of the school such as the cafeteria, classrooms, doorknobs, desks, restrooms, and buses.
INSTRUCTIONAL NEEDS DURING THIS TIME
The district received confirmation on a waiver from the Wyoming Department of Education. This waiver reduces the number of required instructional calendar days that the district is closing school.
“In essence, the school closure dates from March 23, 2020, to April 3, 2020, do not need to be made up. However, in the best interests of our students, the district will be providing online learning so students receive instruction during this time. By expanding online education, the district will be prepared in the event school closures would need to continue after April 3,” the district statement said.
On Monday, March 23, families can expect a communication from their students’ school principals.
In general, here is what families can expect for the weeks of March 23-27 and March 30 to April 3:
Monday, March 23
-- Meal service begins for all students and any individual under the age of 19.
-- Certified and classified staff report to their home school.
Tuesday, March 24
-- Technology for students in grades K-12 will be distributed.
Wednesday, March 25, to April 3
-- Online instruction begins. Families and students will receive information from their child's teachers. This will be content that your student really needs to know for the next couple of weeks. Please be patient. For some, this is a new format. Take time to learn the platform and how things work. Keep the communication going with teachers. Utilize tech support.
• Principals will be available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to help and answer questions. They can be contacted through ParentSquare or by the email addresses provided on www.sweetwater1.org/leadership_team.
• All of the district teachers will have specific availability hours Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. through 4 p.m. that will be communicated from the school.
The district is trying to keep staff healthy too and follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Staff members are encouraged to work or engage in school from home whenever possible. The district will be sending information on how to contact teachers. It is the same format used during the last parent-teacher conferences.
STUDENTS RECEIVING SERVICES UNDER IDEA OR SECTION 504
All students will receive equal access to the educational opportunities and services provided by the district. Students receiving services under IDEA will have IEP meetings as scheduled. Parents and staff can attend via phone and will be contacted by the district as needed. Parents should feel welcome to contact their child's teacher of record with any questions.
All extracurricular activities and events – such as Bingo for Books, prom, sports, the school play -- have been suspended at this time. Teams and clubs will not host any practices or meetings during this time. This includes all community activities housed in the district's buildings after hours. No field trips will occur during this time of closure. As the district receives more information on closures and if it is able to reschedule postponed events, it will share them with the community.
“We are so very grateful for the outstanding leadership in this district and community. As we all navigate these uncertain and stressful days, we could not be more grateful for our district staff, parents, and community members working around the clock to provide timely communications and support,” the statement said. “The district has received great questions and understands the impact closing schools has on a community. We would especially thank All West Communications for the support and services during this time.”
The district will pay staff their regular compensation while schools and district facilities are closed.
“Rest assured, this will not affect you financially as the district will be paying staff their normal paychecks as listed on their hire form. For example, if you are a 40-hour employee, you will receive your regular pay as if you were physically clocking in and out. If you are a 29-hour staff member, you will be compensated for the time you would be regularly scheduled to work. Finally, if you are a certified staff member (teacher, itinerant staff, etc.) you will receive your regular salary according to your contract. Long-term substitutes serving in full-time classroom teaching positions will also be paid while schools are closed due to their responsibilities in supporting online instruction,” the district said in a press release.
During the week of March 23-27 or March 30 to April 3, staff will not need to utilize sick time, sick leave bank, vacation, personal, or FMLA. This will be full pay. Any absences in AESOP will need to be removed for these dates.
Any employee or family member experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should get in touch with their immediate principal or director.
“In doing our part to encourage social distancing, the district will work to keep staff at home as much as possible. We also recognize that many of our employees are parents and they are needed for their own families. However, some positions will require staff to report to work at times. When an employee is needed for their job responsibilities, the district requires that people practice social distancing and follow required guidelines,” the district said.
Certified and classified staff need to report to their home school on Monday, March 23, at 8 a.m. Administrators may stagger arrival times and will communicate this directly with their staff. Please remember social distancing at copy machines and water coolers. Staff will be permitted to work in their classrooms and offices individually. Staff will work in the building as long as they need to plan for the week or gather materials to work at home. Support staff should work with their building administrators for duties. PLCs may be held only through virtual meetings even within the school, no face-to-face meetings even within the same school. Monday, March 23, will be the only day certified staff will be allowed to enter the school for the week of March 23-27. Additional information will be coming for March 30 to April 3. School office staff and central office staff will receive communication from their administrator or director directly on the needs of the school or department. Certified staff may be needed to virtually attend IEP or 504 meetings.
No parents or students will be allowed in any district facility during this time. The central administration building will also be closed to the public from March 23 to April 3. Board of education meetings will be open as they are public meetings. Further information on board meetings will come at a later date.