• Return to the 2021-22 School Year

    As the COVID-19 pandemic continued through the summer of 2020, the Northwest R-1 School District worked to create a “Return to School Plan” for 2020 that would allow students to physically and safely return to in-person learning while also offering a virtual option for families. The District created a Return to School Task Forces made up of over 150 staff members and received public input through stakeholder surveys from both staff and families.  COVID-19 updates were also included in every public Board of Education meeting from March, 2020 to present day. 

    To accommodate social distancing, the 2020 plan included starting the year hybrid for secondary students and essentially creating an on-line school for elementary students that would help keep class sizes low enough to physically distance. The plan continued to be reviewed and adjusted throughout the school year based on current data, federal and local health guidance, as well as staff and community input. In addition, district administrators held staff ”listening sessions” at each school building multiple times throughout the school year. Based on the latest information available at the time, adjustments were made throughout the year to allow for more students to return in person each quarter and we began reducing mitigation strategies in the latter part of the school year. Any adjustments to the original plan were communicated with monthly letters and social media.

    The Northwest R-1 School District and school districts around the country learned throughout the pandemic that every plan needed to be flexible and adjusted throughout the year. Based on what we have learned with our current local and national trends, and most importantly, what is happening in our school community, the Northwest R-1 School District plans to begin the 2021-22 school year as normal as possible with the following updated guidance and mitigation strategies:

    • FACE COVERINGS:
      • Endorsing the CDC recommendation of universal and correct wearing of masks for those 12 and older if not fully vaccinated.  Masks will be provided and will be optional for all students and staff.
      • Possible return to a mask requirement if high levels of transmission are identified in a school/classroom setting.

    • PHYSICAL DISTANCING, QUARANTINING & ISOLATING:
      • Social distance to the extent possible with barriers or rerouting when applicable or necessary. 
      • Continue isolation in accordance with the CDC and Jefferson County Health Department. 
      • Continue quarantine in accordance with the CDC and Jefferson County Health Department.

    • HEALTH  MONITORING AND HYGIENE PRACTICES: 
      • Ask staff, students and families to perform a symptoms checklist daily. If an individual is sick or demonstrating symptoms he/she will be asked to stay home. Antigen testing will not be provided or available at schools. 
      • Continued education and practice of good hygiene and frequent hand washing consistent with CDC guidelines.
      • Santizer and other supplies will be provided to staff and students. 

    • UNIVERSAL CLEANING AND MAINTAINING HEALTHY FACILITIES: 
      • Continued efforts to increase sanitization practices consistent with CDC guidelines.
      • Continued efforts to convert all water fountains to bottle fillers.

    • CONTINUITY of EDUCATIONAL SERVICES:
      • A virtual school option available for all students.
      • An alternative method of learning plan in place in the case of a building or classroom closure.
      • An alternative method of learning plan in place for students who are required to isolate or quarantine. This may include virtually connecting to a classroom or homebound instruction.
      • Accommodations as necessary or as mandated by an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

    The plan and procedures listed above will be periodically reviewed and revised when necessary. Updates will be provided to the community via letters, social media, and public Board of Education meetings throughout the school year. 

    Supporting Students through the Use of Additional Federal Funds:

    During the 2020-2021 school year, the availability of Federal CARES Act and ESSER funds provided budget stability and covered $2.8 million of expenses for additional staff, supplies, technology and programs related to COVID-19.

    Recognizing that more federal funds may become available, district administration engaged in a process of “listening sessions” with school staff to discuss future needs regarding COVID-19 and unfinished learning to support staff and students. Through this process, there have been several instructional and support positions identified for the 2021-2022 school year.

    The positions include:

    • additional teachers for class size management
    • math and reading instructional coaches
    • math and reading interventionist
    • elementary administrative interns 

    In addition to the new positions, there were also new programs and additional professional development needs identified. While iReady assessments will be used as a diagnostic tool for monitoring student growth and learning, additional instructional components will be added such as Standards Mastery, MyPath, and a Teacher’s Toolbox. These add-on components will assist teachers in responding to students' academic needs. Because these new positions, programs, and professional development will initially be supported by $3.5 million in Federal ESSER funds, they will need to be assessed and monitored yearly for impact and sustainability.  

    In addition to the initial support from federal funds, it is anticipated that a third round of federal funds, the American Rescue Act, will be provided to schools to assist with COVID related expenses and address learning loss or other student related needs. The Northwest R-1 School District will continue to allocate these resources for additional staffing and learning tools to support its students and staff. We will continue to monitor and review the progress and periodically adjust resource allocation as needed. 

    If you would like to provide any comments or feedback regarding the “Return to School 2021-22” information, please email comments to returntoschool2021@northwestschools.net.