District Beliefs Relative to COVID-19 Impacts
- Every student should have the opportunity to engage in learning, regardless of the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
- Schools have a vital role in providing safe environments for students, focusing on both social-emotional and physical health.
- By working together with educators, staff, healthcare professionals, parents, students, and community members, we can solve most challenges.
- Our district will make decisions based on the most current guidance from local, state, and national healthcare officials.
- Our School Board will ensure our plan meets the needs of our students, educators, staff, and community.
2020-21 School Year
On August 10, 2020, the School Board of West Fargo Public Schools adopted a Return to Learn plan that governed all activities in the district for the 2020-21 school year. This plan included three critical components:
West Fargo Public Schools has designed our safety plan with consideration for preventative and responsive measures for both home and school. We constructed this plan through collaboration with local and state health officials, in alignment with CDC guidelines. The plan is explicit in determining action steps if stakeholders are exposed to or infected with COVID 19. We will continue to enhance this plan to support the safety and well being of all.
West Fargo Public Schools elementary and secondary leadership teams are continually monitoring and improving our curriculum - what we teach and how we teach it. Our focus is on research-based instruction and best practices. The standards provided by the state are not a curriculum, but provide a target for our district to utilize as we determine the resources that we implement and use to educate our youth in West Fargo.
In periods of uncertainty, services focusing on social emotional learning become a priority and relationships are the primary focus of SEL development in West Fargo Public Schools. We know that school closures may have caused chaos, unpredictability, and fear. A child who has experienced this trauma might feel unsure of what to expect when things change. Predictability and routine can help children who have experienced traumatic events adapt to transitions in the classroom a little easier so that they feel safe and ready to learn.
Testing & Vaccination
While separate from our Return to Learn plan, testing and vaccination were two other key strategies in West Fargo's ability to safely keep students and staff onsite.
West Fargo Public Schools partnered with Fargo Cass Public Health, the ND National Guard, and Fargo Public Schools to provide rapid testing clinics specifically for school staff starting in November 2020. These testing efforts moved to each school in the district at the end of January 2021 and were available until mid-May.
West Fargo Public Schools partnered with Fargo Cass Public Health and Fargo Public Schools to create opportunities for staff to be vaccinated with as little impact to the instructional environment for students and families. At the end of the year, the district partnered with Essentia Health to provide a vaccination clinic for WFPS students and families.
On May 10, 2021, the School Board of West Fargo Public Schools authorized the suspension of the Return to Learn plan effective May 31, 2021, and the adoption of a health and safety plan for summer school and summer activities during June 2021. The key priority of the June document is to implement reasonable accommodations to reduce school-wide and community spread.
Both the CDC and the ND Department of Health are still recommending schools adhere to mitigation strategies like mask-wearing, physical distancing, and general good hygiene. While WFPS will continue to follow the majority of CDC and ND Department of Health mitigation strategies, we believe that with the smaller population that participates in school and activities during the summer, as well as the non-compulsory nature of these events, June provides an opportunity to step back from mandatory enforcement of mask wearing.
2021-22 School Year
At their May 26, 2021 meeting, the district's Return to Learn Advisory Committee met to discuss how the district should start the 2021-22 school year. According to the exit survey the membership took, 78.6% advised the district against reinstating the original Return to Learn plan. Rather, the membership of this committee, which is comprised of parents and staff, felt that the district should evaluate the outcome of the June 2021 health and safety protocols and then determine if those should be continued into the fall or if we could drop all additional protocols entirely.