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
August 10, 2020
March 23, 2020
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.
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.
Winfree’s At-Home Learning Digital Learning Steps for Families and Learners:
All instruction forms and the Tech Support Reporting Form can be found on our website at www.winfreeacademy.com.
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.
***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.
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.
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.
Brandy Schott, Superintendent
March 19, 2020
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.
Beginning March 24th, at-home learning will begin for learners. Additional details about this instruction will come from emails in the next few days.
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.
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:
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.
Superintendent, Winfree Academy
March 15, 2020
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 email@example.com.
Thank you for your patience and help.
March 13, 2020
March 9, 2020
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)–
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.
Brandy Schott, Superintendent