Winfree Academy Charter Schools

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WACS Communications

August 28, 2020

 

Good evening Winfree learners and families,

 

I wanted to take the opportunity to share our decision to continue remote only instruction in our Virtual Academy through October 2.

 

When the novel coronavirus first became prominent in Texas last March, the decision that needed to be made was clear. To close our buildings and move our learners and educators into a remote environment was in the best interest for the health and safety of our families.  Winfree Academy declared that buildings would remain closed for the remainder of the school year.

 

Opening school this Fall, we were faced with an all-too similar situation.  Dallas County’s COVID-19 risk assessment level was Red, “stay home, stay safe”.  Tarrant County’s assessment was that community spread was “Substantial”. Public health departments were recommending that schools open virtually this school year as the COVID- 19 transmission risk was too great to send learners and educators to school.  With that information, our School Board and this School’s administration made the decision to open with remote instruction for the first four weeks of school.

 

Now that these first four weeks are coming to a close, we must make a decision about the next phase of our school year.  We could re-open the buildings and allow those who wish to return for in person instruction to report for classes on Tuesday, September 8th.  We could also apply for a waiver to the Texas Education Agency to extend our period of remote or virtual instruction for an additional four weeks.  

 

Today, some things have changed since we opened school. We know from reviewing data from Dallas, Tarrant, and Denton counties, that the curve is flattening. The seven-day average positivity rates are beginning to decrease in our communities. However, those positivity rates are not below 10% in the three counties that we serve.  Dallas County is still at its highest risk level, Red, with a recommendation to “stay home stay safe”.  Tarrant County continues to define its community spread level as Substantial.  Denton County's last official report stated community spread was "widespread & growing".  The CDC, TEA, and local public health officials designate learners in grades 9-12 at a higher risk than PK-8, thus recommend they remain remote until communities successfully move to risk level, Yellow.

 

Our mission begins with creating a SAFE, supportive environment for our learners.  That must be at the forefront of all that we do for our learners and families at Winfree Academy.  After considering all of the information provided to us by our local health departments, the direction given to us by you through the Learner Commitment Forms, and the options provided by the Texas Education Agency, our School Board has authorized the application for a waiver to extend virtual instruction an additional four weeks.  The Texas Education Agency approved that waiver on 8/27/20.

 

When we return from the Labor Day weekend, classes will continue to be provided solely through our Virtual Academy through October 2nd.

 

We will continue to monitor community spread of this disease and prepare our buildings for the safe return of our educators and learners. Please review our Newsletter each week for updated information on this topic and many more.  In the next few weeks, for those learners who intend on returning to campus in-person on October 13th, families will receive further details regarding your campus and updated health and safety protocols.  As a reminder, throughout the 2020-2021 school year, your learner's instructional model, whether in-person or remote, is your family's choice.  We will serve you proudly either way!

 

Thank you for your continued support and patience as we navigate these changes.

 

Brandy Schott, Superintendent

Winfree Academy Charter Schools (WACS) is eager to welcome our families, learners, and staff back to school for the 2020-2021 school year. We believe the most optimal place for our learners reside on their campus with all of their teachers, peers and staff. Unfortunately, the current state of the public health crisis places us in a position to construct a new way of reaching and engaging our learners and families to provide the level of service and support we desire.

Key beliefs that guide the planning decisions at WACS are centered around Promise, Connections & seeing the Value in all learners & staff. With these core values in mind, WACS will offer our families the choice of both in-person and remote learning this year. We know during the course of the school year, families might change their mind based their own comfort-level or individual family needs, therefore, we have developed our programs with the flexibility and options to allow those changes without a loss of time for our learners. Both of our school models were created with a high-level of engagement between the learner and their teachers as well as with the capacity to allow learners to customize their pace as needed through robust curricular resources, multiple online tools, and caring teachers poised to lead regardless of the location of their learners.
 
The first day of school is August 10, 2020, and due to the current level of community spread, along with our commitment to keep our learners and staff safe, WACS will start school with all learners participating in remote-instruction through WACS Virtual Academy until September 8, 2020. Any change or update to this status will be provided through School Messenger and on our website at www.winfreeacademy.com.

Our priority rests with the health and safety of our learners and families, and we welcome all of your questions surrounding health and safety and school models, as well as any other questions or concerns you may have. It is our honor to serve your learner for the 2020-2021 school year.

Sincerely,

Brandy Schott
Superintendent

Dear Winfree Academy learners, parents, and guardians,

In this email, we hope to give you the tools and guidance necessary to ensure that learning continues to take place as we begin Winfree’s At-Home Learning on Tuesday, March 24th.  We also want to assure you that Winfree Academy understands the circumstances that many of our families are going through right now, including the fact that many of our learners may be responsible for watching their younger siblings. We pledge to be flexible and work with our families to ensure education still takes place during this time. 

We encourage you to keep in touch with your learner’s educators throughout our At-Home Learning process to let them know how learning is happening in your home. 

Here is some information about at-home learning our families should know:

What is Winfree’s At-Home Learning? 

Winfree’s At-Home Learning is an extension of our in-classroom experience. Edmentum and Edgenuity courses will continue as usual for those learners who are able to access their on-line curriculum from home.  For learners who do not have access to on-line curriculum or do not regularly work on these platforms, curriculum packets are being provided for those learners to continue working from home. 

  • Attendance Clerks will continue to account for learner “attendance” daily.
  • Teachers will continue to grade learner work and process semester completions.
  • Registrars will continue to enter grades and process course adds and drops.
  • Counselors will continue to work with learners 

What does At-Home Learning mean for my learner?

This means your learner will be working through learning activities daily in order to support all areas of their learning. Educators will provide distance learning support in a variety of ways, such as Edmentum messaging, Google e-mail, and Google Hangout.  

What if my learner receives specialized services through Special Education, 504, Dyslexia, or English Language Learning?

We are working to ensure access to instruction for learners with a variety of needs. We are continuing to take guidance from the state and federal government in meeting these needs. While the main instruction will be guided by the general education teacher, specialized services and support will be provided to each learner based on their individual needs. Each individual program will work in collaboration with educators and families to be sure that learning plans meet the needs of our learners in light of the current circumstances. 

What is the daily schedule? 

All learners should login and spend 250 minutes, or four hours and 10 minutes working on their curriculum.  This does not need to be done during their traditional attendance time.  

  • For virtual learners, we will take attendance by reviewing the daily instruction logs from Edmentum.
  • For remote learners, they should also be working through their packets daily.  Attendance will be taken daily by phone. Remote learners are asked to call the campus phone number daily to check in with your Attendance Clerk by 4:00pm.  The Attendance Clerk can also assist your learner in getting in contact with a campus educator if they need assistance.

Winfree’s At-Home Learning Digital Learning Steps for Families and Learners:

  • Accessibility - Logging into your devices and ensuring your learner is accessing the learning provided.  We have created a Google Form for communicating accessibility issues with our Tech Support Team.  If you are experiencing issues, please let them know by completing the Google Form.
    • Learners who have checked out a Toshiba laptop may experience some difficulty with their initial login.  Login instructions can be found HERE;
    • Learners who have checked out a Chromebook may experience some difficulty with their initial login.  Login instructions can be found HERE;
    • If a learner has difficulty logging into Clever or Google, those instructions can be found HERE.

All instruction forms and the Tech Support Reporting Form can be found on our website at www.winfreeacademy.com.

  • Monitoring and Discussing the Learning - It will be important for you to monitor your learner’s learning as well as monitor them when they are using their devices.  ***As a reminder, during this time of At-Home Learning, we will not have the filter in place for our devices.*** 

Reading Communication from Educators and Reaching Out - It will be very important for you and your learner to be knowledgeable of the communication happening with emails to parents as well as messages for learners.  

  • Now that we have added Google Classroom, learners will have a Winfree Academy email.  The Google email address will only be able to email others within our Winfree Academy account.  The email address is a combination of their first initial, first three letters of their last name, and the LAST three numbers of their six-digit Other ID.  Learner email addresses have been loaded into WIMS and can be viewed from their learner profile. Here’s an example of what that will look like:
  • Educators will be able to use Google Hangout to chat with learners directly.  This could be a great tool for quick and immediate communication.
  • Google Meet provides the opportunity to have virtual meetings.  Meetings can be conducted via phone, teleconference, or both means.  In Google Meet, meeting participants can also screenshare so learner or educator can show a document or item directly to one another.

***For our initial week of instruction, we will not be using any type of live video chat with learners. ***  We will have a document that will come out in the next week or so reviewing Winfree Academy’s Video Chat Expectations for at-home learning and take next steps to use these chat tools.  

Wireless Accessibility:

We also wanted to pass along information about companies who are offering free or low cost internet access during this time. In addition, most cell phone carriers are waiving data limits at this time. 

  • Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, Comcast is offering 2 months FREE to new Internet Essentials customers in response to recent and anticipated emergency measures associated with the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Internet service was increased to 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream. There are also two dedicated phone numbers 1-855-846-8376 for English and 1-855-765-6995 for Spanish.
  • Effective Monday, March 16, 2020 , Charter will offer FREE Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription and at any service level up to 100 Mbps. To enroll call 1-844-488-8395. Installation fees will be waived for new student households 
  • AT&T is offering low-cost wireline home Internet service to qualifying households. There are two dedicated phone numbers -  855-220-5211 for English and 855-220-5225 for Spanish.
    • With at least one resident who participates in the U.S. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and  
    •  With an address in AT&T’s 21-state service area, at which we offer wireline home Internet service, and  
    • Without outstanding debt for AT&T fixed Internet service within the last six months or outstanding debt incurred under this program.

Updates from Texas Education Agency

As we enter into our Winfree At-Home Learning, we will continue to get guidance and updates from the state on next steps for learning.  Please see the Texas Education Agency link for any updates with testing, accountability and learning.

We thank you in advance for partnering with us to educate our learners.  We are all in this together.  

 

Sincerely, 

Brandy Schott, Superintendent

Good afternoon learners, parents, and guardians,

 

Given the rapidly evolving situation with COVID-19, Winfree Academy Charter Schools will close all locations indefinitely and effective immediately in an effort to support our nation’s need to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.  This action follows advice from local, state, and national health departments and is in the best long-term interest of our Winfree Academy communities.

 

We understand the significant impact this closure will have on our community, especially for families who depend on Winfree Academy for critical services. While Winfree Academy classrooms will be empty, work on behalf of children will continue. Here are the latest updates:

 

Emergency Response Team

School leaders have responded and convened an Emergency Response Team to dramatically transition our learning environment, instructional services programs, support services, and learner management systems.  Our Emergency Response Team consists of myself, our Assistant Superintendent of Business, the Executive Director of Compliance, the Director of Curriculum and Instruction, our Assessment Coordinator, Special Education Coordinator, English as a Second Language Coordinator, Coordinator for School Improvement, Student Services Coordinator, and all six campus Principals.  This diverse group of leaders has allowed us to consider how we will remotely support all types of learning and curricular support, social and mental health resources, technology, testing requirements, and graduation of our learners. We have established new systems and procedures for learners whether in a remote or virtual learning environment, to commence Winfree’s At-Home Learning beginning Tuesday, March 24 2020.

 

At-Home Learning

Beginning March 24th, at-home learning will begin for learners.  Additional details about this instruction will come from emails in the next few days.  

  • For learners who have access to internet and a tablet or computer device, they will continue to have formal, virtual instruction in their Edmentum and Edgenuity courses.
    • Learners may login to clever through the Winfree Academy homepage at clever.com/in/wacsd.
    • Learners should spend 250 minutes per day working on their Edmentum courses.  Attendance will be tracked daily through learner logins.
    • Educators will be accessible through Edmentum and our new Google Classroom environment to support learners. 
  • If you indicated that you do not have access to both internet and a tablet and/or computer at home, we will be sending out a separate communication with further instructions regarding curriculum and how we will account for attendance

Community and Mental Health Resources
211 Texas has instituted a special line for COVID-19 that can now be accessed anywhere, 24/7 in Texas by community members needing assistance (food, health, housing, etc.) during the COVID-19 situation. The website is searchable by zip code.  Call 2-1-1 or visit www.211texas.org.   

We have also begun to compile a list of resources that can be accessed from our website – www.winfreeacademy.com.

 

STAAR Exams

Governor Greg Abbott has cancelled the state STAAR tests for the remainder of this school year.  We are still waiting for direction about other federal testing.  Guidance will be released from TEA soon providing details on how to proceed forward with Class of 2020 graduation for learners who have not yet passed all STAAR exams. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has outlined the need for all communities to implement a social distancing protocol.  We want to reiterate a request to our broader community to take the following reasonable precautions to prevent the spread of the illness:

  • Don’t shake hands
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Limit movement within the community, especially avoiding crowded placed and maintaining 3 to 6 ft of distance between people (at least an arm’s length)
  • If you are moving around in the community, don’t congregate in large groups
  • For those who have traveled to areas with known COVID-19 cases – both inside and outside of the country – we ask that you self-quarantine and monitor for symptoms. Students who have traveled should plan to stay home for two weeks after arriving home. Please contact your campus to let them know, and this will be considered an excused absence.
  • If you suspect you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your health care provider for medical advice .
  • Keep your child at home if he/she feels ill, even if you think it is just a cold.
  • Do not leave the house if you are ill, except to access medical care

 

While times like these bring unrest about what the next few days and weeks may look like,  we want our parents and learners to know that many people came together within minutes of this crisis to completely alter our learning system in order to engage with you daily in our new platform and environment.  It may look different in our new world inside and outside of our walls, but we will navigate this new terrain TOGETHER.

 

Thank you for your support and cooperation as we ensure that all members of the Winfree Academy communities stay safe and healthy.

 

Brandy Schott

Superintendent, Winfree Academy

 

Good afternoon Winfree families,

As of March 14th, 316 independent school districts and charter schools have closed throughout the state of Texas in response to COVID-19.  Most closures range from one to three weeks. While our Winfree Academy campuses remain closed, key personnel continue to work around the clock to plan for what comes next. 

We believe there may be a need for all campuses to remain closed beyond March 20th.  Winfree Academy is preparing to provide both a remote (non-internet) and a virtual learning environment to our learners during the COVID-19 public health crisis.  In order to best serve our families, we need to understand each learner's ability to work on their curriculum from home.  

Please respond using the following survey to provide us with information regarding IF and HOW a learner has access to work on virtual curriculum at home.  Survey Form - forms.gle/JQ3sWipbiSvRShGt6  This will help us as we develop our plans and prepare for if the campuses will remain closed beyond March 20th.  Your response by the end of the day on Monday, March 16th is greatly appreciated.

We will be sending many communications in the upcoming days with questions and information for our learners and parents. If you have any questions, please send us an email at info@wacsd.com.

Thank you for your patience and help.

--Winfree Academy

Providing a safe and supportive environment for our learners is at the forefront of our mission.  For the past few days, we have seen things change minute by minute. Weekly communications with state and local leaders have shifted from weekly, to daily, and now multiple times per day.

Out of an abundance of caution, we will be closing Winfree Academy Richardson, Grand Prairie, and North Richland Hills campuses for the week of March 16-20 with classes scheduled to resume Monday, March 23rd.  Currently, there are no confirmed or presumptive cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) among the communities that these campuses primarily serve.
 
In the interim, please remember that all Clever can be accessed easily through our www.winfreeacademy.com website under the tab Learner Resources.  Using their campus login, learners can sign into Clever and have immediate access to all of their Edmentum, Edgenuity, and WEO courses.  Although the campuses will not be open, learners may continue to work on their curriculum.
 
At this point, you may have more questions than answers...and that's to be expected.  Please know that we will continue to monitor this situation very closely throughout the weekend and next week.  Please regularly check your email, our website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates on the situation, including ways we can further be of help to you. 
Dear Winfree Academy Families,

For a month now, we’ve been reporting to you weekly about illness prevention measures and respiratory diseases such as the cold, influenza (the flu), and the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).  With words such as outbreak, quarantine, and pandemic becoming more prevalent in the media, we wanted to take a moment to report to you the status of the COVID-19 virus in our community, measures currently in place, and how we are monitoring the situation moving forward.

Today we learned that a Collin County man has tested positive for COVID-19. He had recently traveled to California where it is believed that he was exposed to the virus.  He is quarantined at home, in stable condition, and is being monitored by county health staffers.  His family and close contacts are also being monitored for symptoms of the illness.  Collin County health officials have stated that "the immediate risk of transmission in Collin County remains low."

At this time, there is no community spread of COVID-19 in Texas.  As reported by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), there are 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Texas.  Each of these cases are travel-related, i.e. these individuals traveled to a foreign country (China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, or Egypt) where they were exposed to the virus.  Per the DSHS website, “Public health departments are working to identify any close contacts of the patients while they were sick so that they may be isolated and monitored for symptoms and quickly tested, if needed.  DSHS, the Texas Division of Emergency Management, and other state agencies continue their ongoing preparations so that all of state government is working together to limit the spread of the virus and protect Texans. The immediate risk to most Texans remains low.

COVID-19 is a respiratory virus with symptoms similar to the flu – fever, cough, and shortness of breath.  Like the flu, the best way to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, like COVID-19, is to practice the following actions recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC)–

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

We continue to follow local health officials’ recommended steps to protect against COVID-19 in the same way we would prevent the spread of other respiratory illnesses.  During the past week, all six campuses were extensively cleaned with surfaces and common points of contact thoroughly disinfected.  We will continue to monitor the absences of our population to determine if further specialized cleanings need to be scheduled to promote the welfare of our learners and staff.  Additionally, staff are closely monitoring stocks and dispensers of soap, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes to ensure that all supplies needed to promote good hygiene are readily available.

We are monitoring several sources of information regarding COVID-19 and possible next steps.  In Texas, the Department State Health Services (DSHS) is the local authority.  We are also in receipt of communication from the Texas Education Agency and our local Education Service Center multiple times per week.  As information continues to become available, we continue to prepare responsive operations in the best interests of our learners.  We are aware of the recent call for schools to be prepared in the event of closures. While we do not anticipate closures of any of our schools at this time, we are developing a plan in the unlikely event this happens.

As this situation evolves, we will provide updates to our families on a regular basis. We want our families to be informed, yet remain calm concerning this issue.  As always, I thank you for your support of our School.

Sincerely,

Brandy Schott, Superintendent

Everyday Healthy Habits
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow the CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask:
    • The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of flu or COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).