July 10, 2020
Dear Parents, Students, Teachers and Staff Members,
Members of the Weber Board of Education and I recognize that there are questions and concerns regarding the opening of school this fall. District and school leaders are spending the summer preparing for the return of students in August. Throughout the entire school year, Weber School District will follow guidance from state and local health department officials regarding school opening or possible closures. This year's return to school will come with some new protocols and procedures in order to keep everyone safe and healthy. Here is a link to our Safe Weber—A Responsive Framework to COVID-19. We encourage everyone to get familiar with the document, along with its accompanying protocols. While it will alter certain aspects of the school day, our goal is to maintain a normalized environment where students can learn and teachers can teach.
Each of us continues to hope for a vaccine and effective therapeutics to treat the spread of the coronavirus. Optimistic medical advances are certainly bringing that day closer. Until then, our individual behavior will become the most effective defense against the virus. Up to this point, our best countermeasures against the virus have been limiting large scale social interactions and imposing restrictions on group gatherings (e.g., soft closure of schools, closures of non-essential businesses, stay-at-home recommendations, etc.). We have moved into a period where these types of restrictions are less sustainable. We are now beginning to rely more on individual behaviors. Frankly, our goal is to keep schools open, sporting events available, extracurricular activities accessible, as well as field trips, dances and graduation. The best way to accomplish that is for each of us to demonstrate individual responsibility by protecting ourselves and others.
As we open schools for in-person instruction, it is important that everyone recognizes the role they play in protecting themselves and others. It is absolutely imperative that if anyone experiences flu-like symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, chills, nausea, etc.) they stay home. The board of education has suspended high school attendance credit requirements for the 2020-21 school year so that no student feels compelled to attend school. Likewise, elementary and junior high administrators have discontinued any type of perfect attendance awards. Each school will place a heightened emphasis on facility sanitation, including the regular cleaning of touch points, horizontal surface areas and the use of electrostatic sprayers to maintain a clean and healthy school environment. Hand hygiene is vital! We will have hand sanitation stations placed throughout our schools and students will be encouraged to regularly wash their hands as a way to remove germs, avoid getting sick and prevent the spread of germs to others.
The school district will provide face coverings for students and teachers. These face coverings are durable, washable and reusable. They will come in school colors and include the school logo. We also have a face shield for every teacher and staff member. Face shields permit the students to see and hear their teacher. These simple things like consistent hand-washing, staying home when sick, facial coverings, standing at a distance and limiting close interactions will become our best defense against the virus and keep everyone safe. Now that we know much more about how the virus is spread, we must govern ourselves in ways that will limit the spread.
Finally, we know that there will be some families who choose to have their students learn from home. We want to accommodate that choice. We have had teams of teachers working all summer to build courses on a learning management system called CANVAS (and in some instances Google Classroom). This will enable your student to stay connected to his/her teacher and classmates while learning from home in a flexible model.
The overall success of this school year will require each of us working closely together, listening to one another's concerns and doing our part to contribute to a positive, healthy and safe school experience.
Dr. Jeff M. Stephens
Superintendent; Weber School District