Walton County School District  Superintendent’s Update July 2020

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Supt Hughes

In the beautiful panhandle of Florida, summer is synonymous with beautiful beaches, warm breezes, and relaxation!  Our dedicated Walton County teachers and administrators are spending long summer hours in specialized training to make sure we are up to date on cutting edge technology, learning strategies, and Florida educational standards.  WCSD Administrators were recently excited for the opportunity to participate in a coaching and feedback workshop led by K12Lift to review school and individual student data to facilitate planning for student success in the school year 2020-2021.

Our summer feeding program will continue as it has in years past. Feeding will continue every Thursday through the month of July (July 16, July 23, and July 30).  Our two food locations are Walton Middle School in DeFuniak Springs and Freeport High School in Freeport. We will offer a curbside service from 10:00 a.m. until 12 noon.

On June 11, Governor DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education released a 150- page plan for “Re-opening Florida Schools and the CARES Act: Closing Achievement Gaps and Creating Safe Spaces for Learning.”  In response, Superintendent Hughes created a Re-opening Task Force in May which is meeting regularly and includes expert stakeholders from the Florida Department of Health and Walton County Emergency Management. Many of the topics being focused on by the task force have been guided by COVID-19 data; Florida’s phases, which were established by our Governor; CDC guidelines; and our recent parent survey results. With that input, we immediately started preparing for our next steps and ultimately for the restart of our school year on August 10, 2020.

To start, we have carefully and strategically begun bringing small groups of students onto our campuses. On June 1st, we were able to serve families by opening our SPICE program to 180 students at four schools. To date, this program has been very successful, and the process has allowed us to transition effectively keeping our children and employees safe.

Next, in July, we hope to continue bringing additional students back for our annual Summer Bridge and other types of educational programs to help fill in learning gaps from the last nine weeks and/or help students who may need a jumpstart to the 2020-2021 school year.

In preparation for the new year, we are working hard to provide answers, options, and innovative solutions. As our state and nation moves forward, we will begin to see school districts across America discuss non-traditional ideas for the educational process. We do know that school will look different. COVID-19 effects, phases, and information may continue to change, so traditional school processes like scheduling, car drop off, school lunches, buses, and more may change with what we know and learn. For example, whether we wear masks, not wear masks, or choose to wear masks, all will be addressed. Please know over the coming weeks, our school district will determine what is best for all stakeholders. We will work hard to achieve and are committed to the best re-opening plan for our district. Rest assured, this task, and likewise making it EPIC, is taken seriously for the well-being of our children and greater community.

Please continue to look for additional information from Superintendent Hughes’ office which will be rolled out in the weeks to come. Visit our website at www.walton.k12.fl.us. When decisions are made, you will be the first to know, and we will post the information as soon as we finalize it. Until then, if you hear rumors or have questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to your school(s) and/or the district office. Thank you for your trust, confidence, and belief in our school district, and thank you for giving us time and grace to make the best decisions for our children.  Remember that we now have another avenue of communication with our added texting feature.  Parents, students, and other stakeholders can text questions to 850-204-9667. Text submissions are immediate, and a staff member should respond to you quickly. With this new number, the district will be able to provide a quick response for any issues or concerns that may occur as we move into the 2020 school year!

Reopening Plan and Letter to Parents July 8: https://www.walton.k12.fl.us/2020/7/re-opening-plan-and-letter-to-parents

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