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Update: 3/28/20

  • Dear Parents and Guardians:

    While school was out the past two weeks, West Ada district staff and building administrators have been working long hours to prepare for remote learning.  We know that while we are all anxious about what is going to happen over the next weeks and months, we share a desire to help West Ada students get the most out of what remains of the school year.

    Here is an update on the upcoming remote learning program in West Ada.

    • Remote learning for all students will begin April 13
      • Teaching staff will return to work March 30 - April 1 depending on their work assignment
        • Teachers will begin calling their students to see how our families are doing and also to complete the information regarding how many students have access to the internet and a computer at home. To date, 19,108 recipients have answered the internet access survey.  This means that over half of those who received the survey have not answered or the survey was not deliverable to the email address in PowerSchool.   Just over 900 recipients indicated they don’t have internet access via a computer.  Teachers will help identify how many of the roughly 20,000 recipients who didn’t answer the survey have internet access via computer at home to help us prepare for students who will need printed learning resources
        • Web-based resources for learning are available now for students to use who have internet access. These resources are optional
        • Teacher teams will work to produce the first week’s learning resources
        • Special education staff will contact families with special needs students regarding scheduled upcoming meetings and to develop specific plans for these students
        • Printed packets of materials will be produced for families who will be using this remote learning resource
        • Staff who have not used Microsoft Teams will get training on the use of this digital platform. Microsoft Teams will be the main platform used by the school district to provide digital learning resources
      • Remote learning will include a combination of digital educational resources, emails, and printed packets
        • Teacher teams will put together weekly sets of learning resources
        • The learning will include a school day’s worth of learning materials for each day of the week
        • The Remote Learning Plan will include a daily schedule that families can follow to organize the school day for students at every level
        • The locations to pick up packets will vary by school. Each school’s community has different locations available where packets can be left for pick-up.  Further details about pick-up locations will be provided to parents by each school
      • Every remaining weekday of the school year will be a school day for learning
        • Any remaining non-school days in the calendar will be school days. For example, previously scheduled non-school days for senior-project, SAT, collaboration, etc. will be school days
      • Remote learning at the high school level will be focused on making sure students have the opportunity to earn the credits needed to continue toward graduation
        • Seniors who were on track to graduate will be able to graduate
        • Students will be provided with any electronic device that is needed for access to digital learning resources, or they will have the option to use their own electronic devices to access the learning resources that are made available by their teachers
        • Some Career Technical classes present a unique challenge because of the hands-on nature of these courses. More information on some of these courses will be provided prior to school resuming
        • The school district has been working directly with our university partners who offer concurrent credits. The universities have offered flexibility so that the remaining school calendar will provide enough time for students to complete these courses
        • The College Board, which provides the curriculum and final exam for Advanced Placement exams, has made a 45-minute online version of the tests for students to take once they have completed the curriculum and are ready for the final assessment
      • Remote learning at the middle school and elementary levels will focus on students learning what they need to be successful in their next grade level
        • Students will not be required to repeat their current grade next year
        • Learning resources will focus on Language Arts and Math.
        • Other curriculum areas will be part of the daily schedule (art activities; physical education that students can complete, etc.)
        • Middle school students currently enrolled in a high school credit-bearing class will be able to receive high school credit
      • Every effort will be made to complete the school year as close to the end of the school year that is currently in the school calendar approved by the Board of Trustees
        • Information about the exact date the school year will end will be provided after the Board of Trustees approves an amended school calendar for the remainder of this school year
      • Several state requirements have been cancelled or waived
        • ISAT testing
        • Senior Project
        • SAT (as a requirement for graduation). West Ada will provide juniors and seniors with dates when the assessment is being offered
      • Some West Ada activities have been cancelled
        • The Idaho High School Athletics Association has canceled all athletics until April 5 in order to comply with the Governor's recent order, CDC guidelines, and to keep kids, parents, and staff safe. West Ada will communicate information about any future cancellations
        • Senior proms at all high schools have been cancelled
      • The school lunch program will continue. Meals are available at thirteen school locations, Monday through Friday, from 11 am to 1 pm
      • How graduation ceremonies will be conducted is still not known. West Ada is still waiting to see if the Extra Mile Arena (BSU), where West Ada graduation ceremonies are held, will be available this year.  We are working on how to recognize the accomplishments of our graduating seniors if the venue is not available

    Clearly, this will not be a regular end to the school year.   Nevertheless, our Board of Trustees, Superintendent, district administrators, building principals, teachers and support staff are dedicated to creating the best educational opportunity possible for our students.  These are extraordinary times, which means how learning continues for our students will be extraordinary.

    Our staff is looking forward to contacting our West Ada families to check in and inquire how students are doing with the hope and belief that you are all doing well.

    More details about the rest of the school year and remote learning will be provided next week.


    Eric Exline
    Chief Communication Officer
    West Ada School District

Update: 3/24/20

  • The Idaho State Board of Education announced that all schools in the state of Idaho would be closed until April 20, 2020.

    West Ada continues to develop strategies to provide remote learning opportunities for all students.

    West Ada will continue providing free meal services for kids 1-18 years old.

UPDATE: 3/21/20

  • Dear Parents and Guardians: 

    The pandemic spreading across the United States is disrupting life in innumerable ways.   Education is not immune from the confusion.  With updates coming in daily, the questions seem to come faster than the solutions. 

    We have received a lot of those questions from parents, who are wondering what the rest of this school year will bring.  We have also received a lot of really good suggestions and ideas, all of which we have taken into consideration. 

    Many of the emails ask similar questions.  Here are answers to some of the questions we have heard the most, based on what we know now and recognizing that the answers could change as events unfold in the future: 

    When will school resume? 

    As of today, all West Ada Schools will remain closed through Friday, April 3.  (State Board decision on 3/23 was to close schools until April 20) Closures beyond that date will depend on what happens with the spread of the virus.   

    When will the school lunch program resume?  

    Free breakfast and lunch combo meals for kids ages 1-18 started Friday, March 20 at the schools listed below.  Meals can be picked up via drive-thru in school bus lanes and at designated areas in front of school for those who are walking, while supplies last.  The meals are to be taken and not consumed on-site. 

    Meals will be served between the hours of 11 am and 1 pm, Monday through Friday only. Children must be present to receive a free meal.  Parents may not pick up free meals for their children.  If parents would like to pick up additional meals for their children, a breakfast-lunch combo is $5. 

    Sites providing meals:  

    If school closures continue will West Ada offer classes online
     or remote learning? 

    Offering online or other remote options for our students to learn while schools are closed presents a number of challenges.  West Ada is working relentlessly to overcome these challenges.  Our remote learning program is being developed to meet the needs of all students, including the needs of students with Individual Education Plans and 504s.  Following is more information. 

    A lengthy period of school closure is a real possibility.  Many parents have asked if there are resources available to use at home.  West Ada has provided links to learning apps on its website to help students continue the learning process at home.  In addition, West Ada district staff have put together additional learning resources for students and parents.  Some of the links at the bottom of the learning resource page are to Khan Academy, which offers a wide range of learning resources for students at every grade.  This site has also started offering daily lesson plans.  The State of Idaho has a Digital Learning Portal with many educational resources. 

    Offering educational resources is different, however, than teaching classes offered by West Ada using an online learning platform.  Providing online classes presents some significant hurdles. 

    First, to provide school online that is graded and counts toward graduation means that all students need to be able to participate.  This requirement comes from federal law passed in 1972 that requires schools to offer a free, appropriate public education to all students.  On March 12, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued guidelines regarding educational services during the current pandemic.  The guidelines remind schools that they must provide educational access to all students if educational services are being provided to any student.  The Wall Street Journal ran a story about the challenges online learning poses to school districts across the country. 

    This creates some logistical challenges.  According to US Census Data, approximately 9% of homes in West Ada don’t have access to the internet, and there is not a database of which homes these are.  Five hundred and seventeen West Ada students are homeless.  More than 9,000 live below the poverty line. West Ada could offer computers to anyone who requests one or picks one up at school, but even doing so doesn’t ensure that all students will get a computer and be able to access it.  The school district could provide internet access in school parking lots, but without bus service, there is no guarantee that every student would be able to get to school to access the internet.  

    The logistical challenges are only part of the dilemma.  Unlike many universities, which regularly offer online classes, West Ada does not have an online learning platform.  Such a platform would allow online posting of assignments, a means for students to turn those assignments in to be graded, and the ability to return the assignment.  It would have a means to provide students with tests that they could take on line and that teachers could then grade.  

    West Ada could acquire such a system.  However, being able to use the system would require staff training, but given the current COVID-19 guidelines, which recommend social distancing, providing this training isn’t advised because it would require having large numbers of staff to gather for the training.  Similar training would be needed for students, in particular those at young grades, which again isn’t advisable under the current circumstances. 

    Despite these logistical and legal challenges, West Ada has developed a plan to provide remote learning.  We are continuing to refine the plan.  Updates on the plan will be provided after Spring Break Please look for an important survey regarding internet access at home that will be sent out today. 

    What happens if school doesn’t resume for weeks or even the rest of the school year? 

    Planning for what would have been unimaginable a few months ago raises a lot of questions.  There are several possibilities.  First, some or all of the time could be made up later in the spring depending on how long school is closed.  Idaho has a required number of hours that schools must offer educational services each year.  The amount varies by level (elementary, middle, and high) and West Ada’s calendar offers some hours above these requirements at most grades.  Right now, seniors and kindergarten are on the threshold of not being able to meet these hour requirements within the current calendar.  With more lost school days, other grades will begin to fail to meet these hour requirements. 

    There are ways to make up time within the current calendar.  Future non-school days (for example the collaboration day scheduled for April 27) could become full days of school.  Collaboration on Wednesdays could also become class time.  Adjusting school bell schedules by even 15 minutes makes up a considerable amount of time. 

    The other possibility, maybe in combination with adjusting the bell schedule, is to request a waiver from the state that would release the school district from the hour requirements.  
    Which direction the school district will take will depend on how long school continues to be cancelled. 

    Will students have to repeat their current grade? 

    No.  Students will not be required to repeat their current grade. 

    What about students who are working on concurrent college credits or toward taking an Advanced Placement exam? 

    West Ada staff have been in close contact with our partnering universities who offer our students concurrent credits and the College Board, which provides the Advanced Placement testing.  In all cases, these institutions have shown a great deal of flexibility in terms of timelines, deadlines, course requirements, withdrawal dates, concurrent credit learning outcomes, and in the case of the College Board, dates that AP tests will be administered.  The final solutions will depend on how long schools will be closed. 

    What about upcoming events?  Proms have been cancelled.  When will kindergarten registration happen?  What happens to graduation? 

    - Currently, we don’t know if Boise State’s Extra Mile Stadium will be available for graduation.  
    - The Idaho High School Activities Association has cancelled all sports through April 5.  
    - Kindergarten registration will be rescheduled once Central District Health recommends that group gatherings are again allowable. 
    - Further announcements will be made after Spring Break.  

    Will my senior graduate? 

    Yes, students who were on track to graduate this year will graduate. 

    We believe we are all in this together.  
    Thank you to all the teachers and parents who have graciously volunteered to help us.  We may be calling!  
    We will continue to do our best to meet the needs of all our students given the current dynamic.

    Thank you,
    Mary Ann Ranells, Ph.D.
    Superintendent of Schools
    West Ada School District

Last Modified on Sunday at 1:09 PM