Students remain high priority for WASD during COVID-19 Shut Down
Following Wisconsin Governor Tony Ever’s order to shut down all K-12 schools across the state due to the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Wautoma Area School Board of Education, administrative team, teachers, food service and support staff worked together in order to come up with a plan in order to ensure students will have education materials and food during this uncertain time.
Due to the fact the WASD had held their spring break March 9-13th and with Gov. Ever’s order beginning on March 16th, the WASD School Board and District Administrator held a special meeting on Sunday, March 15, to explain their plan to concerned citizens, which included not having the students return to school for the two days following spring break. District Administrator Tom Rheinheimer sent out a letter to parents and guardians explaining the school closing, with only administrative staff, teaching staff, program support, clerical and food service staff reporting to their schools on March 16.
Following an early morning administrative meeting, each building administrator went back to their schools to have a meeting with their staff and create an educational plan for their students for each grade level. At this time, Food Service Director Tami Stansbury also helped to implement a plan to feed all children 18 and under in the Wautoma Area School District even if they do not attend school. The distribution sites are located at select areas throughout Wautoma and Redgranite communities with the bus drivers and food service employees assisting with distribution. According to Stansbury, the first day of the food distribution there were 317 meals served, as of March 23rd over 417 children in the community has been served sack lunches and a breakfast kit. (Please see below for a full list of distribution sites and times.)
Throughout Monday and Tuesday, staff members at each building worked to create a plan for their students. Staff members at each school contacted parents and their students to find out what supplies they had a home and what they needed distributed to them. Riverview and Redgranite Elementary created packets for children along with any school supplies they may need, while Parkside and the Wautoma High School implemented a digital learning plan for students, which was posted on the wautomasd.org website on Monday, March 23 for both schools.
“On March 16th, the Wautoma Area School District Staff mobilized and worked together without complaint to prepare and execute a plan that had to be implemented within 48 hours for a scenario we never dreamed of: our students not being able to set foot in our school buildings for an extended period of time due to a pandemic situation,” Rheinheimer said. “These staff members focused their efforts during this time on communicating with our students and families to ensure this process was clear, and at the same time gathering educational resources and personal items to distribute to the families on March 18th and 19th. The Wautoma Area School District Staff is to be commended for giving everything they had emotionally and physically to ensure the emotional and academic needs of our students were addressed during this unprecedented event.”
By Tuesday evening, March 17, Rheinheimer sent out information to parents via the District Facebook Page, website and emergency messenger explaining the distribution schedule for each school that would be taking place the following day. The distribution of educational materials was held on Wednesday, March 18, from 7 AM to 5 PM at the buildings with staff members wearing gloves and walking up to each car to deliver the items students and parents requested.
With students receiving their educational materials and the administrative team, teachers and support staff working on a plan for the following weeks to help keep students engaged at their homes, Rheinheimer and Chief Financial Officer Cindy Reilly held a second special meeting of the WASD School Board on Sunday, March 22, in the Wautoma High School Library in order to discuss the emergency work plan and compensation schedule.
Prior to making this decision, the Board members adjourned into closed session to discuss the emergency work plan and compensation schedule proposed by Rheinheimer and Reilly. About an hour later, the Board reconvened into open session and voted to unanimously approve the emergency work schedule and compensation plan 6-0, with one member excused from the meeting.
“During a time of great crisis, such as the COVID-19 outbreak and school shut down, all citizens look to the leaders of their community to provide guidance, support, and effective decision-making in order to move forward while maintaining a safe and secure environment. The Wautoma Area School District Board of Education never blinked during this fast-moving emergency situation,” Rheinheimer said. “As the elected officials of this school district, their guidance, support, and decision-making was laser focused on maintaining educational and emotional connections through quality communications with our students and our families; and then to take care of our staff members so they could continue to provide a semblance of educational services to our students with At-Home Instruction. It should be reassuring to our citizens that the Wautoma Area School District Board of Education is consistently determined on making decisions that will benefit the future of our communities.”
At this time, each teacher throughout the District continues to hold office hours over the phone or Google Hangout in order to check in with their students as well as the parents. The Wautoma Area School District Office is staffed although the Fox Valley Technical College Regional Center is closed to the public. Until further notice a secretary will be available to answer the office phone at each of the schools at the following designated times: Redgranite Elementary: 6 a.m. to 11 a.m., Monday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday; Riverview Elementary, 7 a.m. to Noon, Monday-Thursday; Parkside School, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday-Thursday; and Wautoma High School, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday-Thursday.
While schools are closed, Wautoma Area School District Food Service program will be providing free meals to all children 18 and under. Families will be able to drive-thru or walk up to receive their grab-and-go meals from 11:00-11:45 AM at the locations listed below. Meals will be available Monday- Friday.
Meal Pick-Up Locations:
Redgranite: 11:00 - 11:45 AM
-Sentry Parking lot - 275 Laing St
-Kwik Trip, Back lot- 549 W Bannerman Ave
Wautoma: 11:00 - 11:45 AM
-Crossroads Family Church parking lot - 640 S Water St.
-St Joseph Catholic Church parking lot- 364 S Cambridge St.
-Old Shopko Parking Lot - N2585 Plaza Rd.
-Empty lot next to O’Reilly Auto Parts, across from Taco John’s
Wautoma: 12:00 - 12:30 PM
-Sand Crest area on Fairway Ave between Sky View and Park View Court
Mt. Morris: 11:00 - 11:45 AM
-Mt. Morris Community Center - 21st Lane
Children will receive a grab-and-go lunch plus breakfast for the next day. Per USDA regulations, children must be present in order for meals to be provided. Meals are available to all children, not just those attending WASD.
This program is solely for the pick-up of meals; meals will not be consumed on-site. We encourage families to continue to be proactive in reducing the risk of COVID-19 by not congregating at the pick-up locations. Continue to wash your hands often, sneeze or cough into a tissue, and stay home if you are sick.
If you have students with allergies or have any questions, please contact Tami Stansbury, WASD Food Service Director, at 920-787-7112 ext. 1011.