Winters schools preparing for in-person learning

Senior Karina Del Toro works on painting one of the parking lot spots in the WHS student parking lot on Monday, Feb. 15. Photo by Crystal Apilado/Winters Express

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School district staff and administrators continue preparations for the return to in-person learning pending when Yolo County is placed in the red tier. Winters Joint Unified School District Superintendent Diana Jiménez sent out a message to Winters JUSD families to update them on preparations happening on school grounds to create classroom environments in line with county and state guidelines. Desks have been fitted with dividers and learning areas have been adjusted to fit the updated Jan. 14 California Department of Public Health guidance. She said in addition to hard work being done by teachers who are preparing for the switchover, the school district’s maintenance, operations and transportation teams have been working to prepare school sites to welcome students and staff back into classrooms. Staff has installed social distance markings on sidewalks, in hallways and throughout the school sites to indicate the 6-foot distances. Social gathering areas like gyms, multi-purpose rooms and eating areas now have portable hand-washing stations. Sanitizing resources have also been included in all of the classrooms, restrooms, and other rooms on campuses. Winters High School invited seniors to paint parking spaces on Monday, Feb. 15 in the student parking lot. DJ Barnett was on site to provide music as students arrived in shifts organized alphabetically by their last name to decorate parking lot dividers. School sites are conducting virtual Family Forums on Reopening this week. The meeting links and information is available on each schools’ website. Links may also be posted on each of the school’s specific social media pages. Upcoming forum dates are scheduled for:

  • Wednesday, Feb. 16: WHS Family Forum at 5:30 p.m. English/6:30 p.m. Spanish.
  • Monday, Feb. 22: Waggoner Elementary Family Forum at 5:30 p.m. English/6:30 p.m. Spanish.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 23: WMS Family Forum at 5:30 p.m. English/6:30 p.m. Spanish.

Families should contact the office to learn about presentations for the Winters State Preschool Center and the Wolfskill Career Readiness Academy. The Shirley Rominger Intermediate School Family Forum presentation is available on the Rominger website at https://sris.wintersjusd.org/ Jiménez also presented the Board of Trustees at the Feb. 4 school board meeting with an update on the Governor’s Safe Schools for All Proposal and Reopening. She said that while it is still in legislation and is prone to changes.  Jiménez said she did get confirmation from the CDPH and guidance via the School Services of California publication that schools who do not opt in to the governor’s proposal can consider the regular student testing element a recommendation and not a requirement. The school district will offer testing for staff members. The Winters JUSD COVID-19 Safety Plan for In-Person Instruction and a link to the feedback form can be found on their COVID 19 webpage at https://www.wintersjusd.org/. Rominger project Trustees also took action and unanimously approved moving forward on construction of the Shirley Rominger Intermediate School three classroom modular building project. Mary Fitzpatrick, Senior Project Manager with Van Pelt Construction Services, said a number of factors contributed to an increase in the project budget, but rising costs associated with COVID hadn’t been accounted for in the original budget proposal approved on Feb. 20, 2020 meeting. Other contributing factors included an architectural and soils report fees that brought the revised budget estimation to $2.6M. The Board of Trustees had approved the $2.2M project budget with a stipulation that if the actual budget went over it would come back to the board for approval.  Fitzgerald said the school district has enough funds to cover the new budget estimate by using the remaining Measure R funds, the Proposition 51 funds, and Developer Fees. Utilizing the remaining Measure R bond funds would also close it out. New distance learning platform Trustees also approved a one-year agreement with Edgenuity to utilize their service for the Winters Middle School long-term distance learning. WMS Principal Phoebe Girimonte said that of the vetted platforms, Edgenuity was a better fit for their model. She said some of the other platforms required teachers to do hands on assessments which was not feasible since teachers would also be teaching in-person cohorts. Students participating in the middle school long terms distance learning model will be assigned to one WMS teacher who will conduct daily check ins. Students will do their work independently through the virtual platform. The Edgenuity curriculum is authored by a teacher credentialed in the specific subject area, and content is assessed through the system. Trustees unanimously approved the agreement with Edgenuity to be used at the middle school.

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