From the District Nov. 13, 2020
Message from Superintendent
Dear WGSD Families,
We continue to experience the changing course of COVID-19 in our lives and our community. Today, I ask again for your partnership in taking some preventive measures in support of the health and safety of our children and staff, as well as our entire community and region.
In the WGSD, this week we welcomed the remainder of our students in the Responsive Learning Plan back into our schools. While no different than most staff, anxiousness likely accompanied their enthusiasm to return. Please know that we will continue to prioritize both their physical and social-emotional safety each and every day.
As we move forward, it’s critical that we receive your support in encouraging your children to implement safe practices at all times. While our students have done an excellent job wearing masks, practicing physical distancing, and demonstrating good hand hygiene in our schools, on numerous occasions I’ve witnessed students walking home from school without masks and in close proximity to one another.
In order to keep one another safe and keep our children in school, together through our word and deed, let’s reinforce in our children the importance of safe and healthy practices at all times - not just when we’re watching. Not only might the decision of one child or adult lead to serious health implications for one or more people, we’ve also seen over the past month how it leads to serious educational implications for children and staff who have to quarantine for 14 days. While our teachers continue to do amazing work to connect with their students when in quarantine, the educational experience is not the same as if the students and teachers were face to face and having children at home for an extended period of time places a large burden on many families.
Thank you for partnering with us to keep our children and community safe!
Second Semester Placement Forms
As part of the district enrollment process for next semester, all families have been asked to complete a form for each of their children regarding whether they choose the Responsive Learning Plan or the District Virtual Program for the second semester, with a deadline for responding of this Tues., Nov. 17. The district needs to know by that time in order to complete planning and staffing before winter break. Failure to make a commitment will result in your child being placed in the District Responsive Learning Plan.
On Nov. 18, the day after the deadline, families will receive a confirmation email on the selections they've made. The district will accept changes in those choices until 5 p.m. Nov. 20.
The second semester placement form is available through the SIS Parent Portal at https://sis.webster.k12.mo.us/ . Please login to your account and complete the eForm for each K-12 student by November 17th, 2020. Below is a video walkthrough on where and how to complete the eForm https://youtu.be/mKiXK8NH14g.
If you have any questions about the placement process, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions about your child’s educational programming and/or your SIS Parent Portal login information, please contact your child’s school.
Melissa Murphy of Hudson Honored With Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award
Congratulations to Melissa Murphy, reading specialist at Hudson School, who has been chosen for the Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award. she is among nearly 100 teachers from across the area being recognized this year. Emerson sponsors the awards, which will be presented to teachers next week.
Welcome Back, Steger, Hixson and WGHS Students
Students in the district's Responsive Learning Plan at Steger, Hixson and Webster Groves High School returned for in-person classes this week. Steger and Hixson returned for full-day learning. At the High School, half of the students had classes in the morning and the other half in the afternoon in a hybrid format because of the size of classes and the amount of space in the building.
It's great to have the responsive students back in person. As we continue to work together to slow the spread of the virus, please continue to do everything you can to support a safe and healthy environment. Wear a face covering, wash your hands, practice social distancing and please keep your student home if he or she is sick.
Information on Quarantines
Yesterday, Gov. Mike Parson, with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, announced a change in guidance for determining close contacts and assessing exposure to COVID-19 in school settings that can result in quarantines. At this time, however, the Webster Groves School District will continue to follow guidance from the St. Louis County Department of Public Health. We don’t intend to make changes to our protocol of asking students and staff to remain off campus following an exposure, whether they were wearing a mask at the time or not.
Below, you can read some frequently asked questions concerning quarantine protocols in this district.
What happens if a student or staff member who has attended school is diagnosed with COVID-19?
Parents and staff will be notified immediately if they have had close contact with anyone who is diagnosed with COVID-19. We will follow the guidance of public health authorities in making decisions to close classrooms or schools, or to quarantine specific groups of students or staff. Click here to see the school nurse algorithm
Will students or staff who have been in contact need to quarantine? Will the school/classroom close?
We will be in close consultation with the St. Louis County Department of Public Health to make decisions about the need for individuals or groups of people to be quarantined or tested for COVID-19, depending on the exposure.
Our response and subsequent immediate action steps will be dependent on the situation. For example, the Health Department might recommend a school closure for 2-5 days for cleaning, or they might recommend quarantine for 14 days for a small group of people who had close contact with an infected person. Close contact is defined by health officials as anyone who has been within 6 feet of a case, even when masks were worn, for more than 15 minutes total during a 24 hour period.
- You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more during a 24 hour period.
- You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
- You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)
- You shared eating or drinking utensils
- They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you
We will work with the County Health Department and err on the side of caution to decide when students/staff may need to quarantine and/or a classroom or school should be closed. Please click here to see the protocols for contact tracing.
When a Case is Identified
If an individual within a school building is tested positive for COVID-19, schools must work with their local health department but could expect some of these parameters to be put in place:
- Identify who the individual was in contact with, within a 6-foot space, for at least 15 minutes. If specific contacts cannot be identified, quarantine everyone who was in the same room, bus or other areas.
- The St. Louis County Health Department currently suggests that if over 5 percent of the student body in a building or district test positive any day, 4 percent test positive over 2 days in a row or 3 percent test positive for 3 days in a row, then that building or district closes for 10 days (percentages may change when more scientific data becomes available).
- In the event a person diagnosed with COVID-19 is determined to have been in the building and poses a risk to the staff or students, a school may close for 1-2 days for cleaning and disinfection of that building or exposed area if unable to clean during the nighttime closing.
If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 when can they return to school or work?
If someone is a known close contact to someone with COVID-19, or if they are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, medical clearance would be required prior to returning to school or work. Quarantines can last 14 days or more, depending on the individual circumstances, and we will depend on current public health guidelines in each situation.
If a student at a school gets COVID, what would happen to their class, their sibling, their sibling’s class, etc?
We will follow the direction from St. Louis County of Health in terms of which students will need to quarantine. If a sibling of a quarantined student has not been instructed to do so as well, then they will be able to attend school.
What allowances will be made for staff needing to remain home with a child who has mild symptoms of an illness (congestion, headache, lethargy, etc.) as this is likely to exceed the 5 family illness days allotted to staff members?
Through the Families First Coronavirus Act, staff have ten (10) paid emergency sick days to utilize first should their child be impacted by the COVID-19 virus. We would encourage staff to utilize these days first or concurrently with their personal leave banks. These ten (10) paid emergency sick days are paid at ⅔ salary. Staff may utilize their family illness days in order to create a balance in their salary.
What is the rationale for not requiring a full 14 day quarantine after a known exposure?
Exposure can be defined in a variety of ways. There are levels of exposure that the infectious disease experts and local health professionals will consider when determining who quarantines. For example, if a person was in direct contact with someone with COVID-19, within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more over a 24 hour period of time, then this person is a direct contact and would quarantine. If a person comes in contact with a person who has come in contact with a person who was exposed to COVID-19, then this is considered a contact of a contact. This person would not need to quarantine. Rest assured that when there is a person who has been defined as a direct contact with the COVID-19 virus, they will automatically go under quarantine.
How will students be allowed to catch up if sick and/or unable to attend virtually? Will students be allowed “grading grace” if quarantined for 2 weeks?
Students will not be penalized for a period of time when they are in quarantine. Especially at the High School level, since passing grades are tied to credit, assignment requirements still need to be met. If a student or family are concerned, they should reach out to their grade-level principal or counselor to determine a plan to catch up or determine additional support.
How will teachers be expected to offer simultaneous instruction to students in class as well as those who may be under quarantine at any given time?
At this point, teachers are not expected to teach students in both settings at the exact same time.
Turkey Day Game, Activities Canceled
Webster Groves and Kirkwood High Schools have agreed to end their football seasons as of today, Friday, Nov. 13. The annual Turkey Day will not be played. The decision stems from concerns about rising COVID-19 cases and quarantines that have limited the ability of both programs to have consistent practices over the last few weeks.
In addition, the following Turkey Day activities during the week of November 23 have been also been canceled:
- WGHS ChiliFest at the High School
- Pep Rally
Community Care Food Pantry
The Coronavirus pandemic has affected us all in one way or another, be it school, work, sports, or other facets of our regular lives. In order to support the Webster Groves School District community, Autumn Rempinski, coordinator of the district’s Adventure Club, and other Adventure Club staff members, with the support of the School Board, the WGSD Foundation, nurses, principals and central administration, have shifted their focus from childcare to family care.
They saw critical needs within the community and with inspiration from Hixson’s food pantry effort, they created the WGSD Community Care Food Pantry, which supplies local families in need with food, hygiene products and school supplies.
Over the past months, the food pantry has been setting up to fill families’ needs by accepting donations and holding a food drive. They are now filling requests. If you would like to make a request, you can visit the Community Care website https://mo02202299.schoolwires.net/Page/23454 and submit a request form. Once you have filled out the form, you will be contacted by the food pantry.The number and type of items in each box varies depending on family size and family needs.
The WGSD Community Care Food Pantry’s vision is to assist families in need by making a system that is sustainable. Donations to the food pantry can be dropped off in bins that can be found at all district schools. Currently, the pantry needs foods with lots of protein- canned meats, beans and hearty soups, but other non-perishable foods, hygiene products and school supplies are always appreciated. If you would like to make a monetary donation, you can visit wgsdfoundation.org under the donate page.
The food pantry is always looking for volunteers! If you would like to get in touch with the WGSD Community Care Food Pantry to volunteer, you can contact Autumn Rempinski at 314-329-4498.
This news item was written by Gracie Hedenberg, a senior at the High School who is interning in the district's community relations office.
Bond Issue Progress - Edgar Road School
Today's photo shows construction of the elevator at Edgar Raod School, one of three large accessibility projects in the district. The district is also installing elevators at Avery and Bristol Schools.
Photo by Gracie Hedenberg