NCSD Board of Trustees Review Draft Version of SmartStart Reopening Plan

During their July 8th, 2020, work session meeting the Natrona County School District Board of Trustees reviewed a draft version of a Smart Start Reopening Plan as presented by district staff. Due to time constraints, the entirety of the draft plan as published on Board Docs was not reviewed or discussed. The remainder of the draft document will be presented to the Board of Trustees, and live-streamed for public viewing, at an upcoming meeting. (Date/Time TBA) 

The Smart Start reopening plan presented is a draft plan and we will continue to adjust to align with Governor’s orders, WDE Smart Start reopening guidance, the Natrona County Public Health Officer’s guidance, and the direction of the NCSD Board of Trustees.  

Since the onset of school building closures due to COVID-19, a question laying heavy on the forefront of all of our minds has been “what will school look like in the Fall?”. 

Natrona County School District received the Wyoming Department of Education Smart Start Guidance document on July 1st. The document identifies WDE expectations for reopening schools with four components to be addressed by districts working together with their local health department; communications, safety and wellness, school operations, and instruction and technology. We appreciate the work of the Smart Start Working Group, the Wyoming Department of Education, and State Superintendent Jillian Balow. 

NCSD staff has been working in direct collaboration with the Casper-Natrona County Health Department on a reopening plan since May and it aligns well with WDE’s plan. Targeted efforts have been underway to proactively plan for a variety of options for school operations with a critical understanding of a need for continuous adaptability while ensuring quality services and education remains.  

We have identified 4 key objectives that we must meet to reopen schools:

  1. Reopen schools this summer and fall in a safe, responsible, and healthy manner following all state and local requirements.
  2. Maintain a continuity in learning across a variety of educational settings.
  3. Fiscal and personnel resources must be aligned to meet the needs of reopening schools.  
  4. Communicate effectively with all stakeholders (includes listening, responding, and delivering information). 

Understandably, many questions remain regarding specifics for school operations in the Fall.

Here is what we know: 

  • Schools will be open this summer. 
    • All NCSD Schools will be offering a summer school opportunity for all students, July 27th – August 14th. 
  • Schools will be open in the fall. 
    • Brick and Mortar (traditional) instruction and Natrona County Virtual Program online instruction will be available to meet the needs of all students and school families. 
  • Social Distancing with a distance of 6ft or greater will remain in effect whenever possible. 
  • Currently, the Governor’s order, which runs through July 15th, 2020, requires face coverings to be worn during in-person classes (ESY/Summer School/NCSD Transportation) when social distancing cannot be maintained. 
  • In the case of COVID19 within a classroom or school, NCSD will ensure we are prepared to effectively and efficiently transfer instruction, as applicable, for identified settings based on the guidance of the Casper-Natrona County Health Department. 

We are working dedicatedly on NCSD’s Smart Start Reopening Plan, while remaining as flexible as possible, in order to ensure decisions made reflect the most up-to-date information, current health orders, guidance as provided by local and state officials, and the feedback of our students, parents, and community members. 

We will directly communicate with staff, students, parents, and our community when information is identified and the plan moves from a draft to a finalized version. There is still a lot of work to be done, and we continue to welcome feedback from our stakeholders as we work together – as quickly as possible – to prepare for Fall. 

“We know the success of our schools and students depend on the partnership and collaboration between schools, staff, families, and our entire community,” shared Superintendent Mike Jennings. “We are incredibly grateful for this partnership and want to express our sincere appreciation for the support and dedicated work of students, staff, school families, the Board of Trustees, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department, and the entire community.” 

Information will be forthcoming on focus group opportunities for teachers, school nurses, building leaders, and staff to provide feedback and engage in collaborative conversations as we work to identify processes and next steps. A survey will be shared in the very near future for students, parents, and guardians to provide feedback as we prepare for reopening schools. Stakeholder feedback can also be emailed to where it will be collected, without alteration, and submitted to the Board of Trustees and Cabinet. 

At the end of the day, this remains a very difficult situation for all. None of us ever imagined we would be here today. We understand your frustration, we feel your disappointment. The intent of the Smart Start reopening plan is to open schools, keep them open, and provide a high-quality learning environment for all students to progress in their learning while maintaining our commitment to the safety and health of all students, staff, and the community. We value your voice and perspective as we work together to navigate these challenging times. 

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work together in our shared goal of continuing educational excellence in Natrona County.


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