All posts by tgabrukiewicz

Superintendent Balow’s Statement on School Closure Extension

CHEYENNE – Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow issued the following statement in light of the recent order by Governor Mark Gordon and the Wyoming Department of Health to extend school closures until the end of April.

“As the State Superintendent, I can proudly say that education in Wyoming is prepared to move forward no matter the circumstances,” Balow said.

“As of Thursday, all 48 school districts have Adapted Learning Plans for the continued instruction of all students. The process to build and approve these plans was iterative and involved multiple reviews by districts and the Wyoming Department of Education. I have personally read every plan and communicated individually with every superintendent in the state.

“I have extended maximum flexibility to school districts in addressing the needs of all students. They also can – and will be – modified as long as the closure exists. My office and I will continue to provide guidance, technical assistance, and support.

“In their plans, school districts had to summarize their instructional approach and strategies for engaging all students. There are 48 unique plans to meet the needs of students. Learning is age-appropriate and will not feel like ‘normal school.’

“My continued guidance is to prioritize personal and community health.

“The Governor’s COVID-19 task force on education, which I chair, has focused our work on kindergarten readiness and transitions from high school to college and career. We are also working through implications and guidance for incoming education stabilization funds as a result of the federal CARES Act. We look forward to providing updates.

“I would like to end by saying – we have the best educators” Balow concluded. “We have the best students. We have the best communities. Let’s support each other.”

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Media Contact:
Michelle Panos, Communications Director
307-777-2053
michelle.panos1@wyo.gov

WDE Approves all 48 School District Adapted Learning Plans

CHEYENNE – As of Thursday, the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) approved the Adapted Learning Plans for all 48 school districts. Each district was required to submit a unique plan that lays out the strategies each district is implementing to continue to educate students while schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am impressed by the agility of Wyoming school districts to create learning plans designed to meet the needs of all students in this COVID-19 environment,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “In the span of three weeks, the WDE and school districts worked together to build and approve these plans that will result in continued teaching and learning for more than 90,000 students and 20,000 staff in every school district across our state.”

The Adapted Learning Plans include strategies to deliver a combination of virtual lessons, hard copy packets of assignments, phone calls, emails, and limited in-person instruction. Other aspects of plans include details for attendance, student progress, staff utilization, parent and community engagement, compliance with special education law, considerations for graduating seniors, and student privacy.

“I am especially proud of how school districts have responded to the nutritional needs of students,” Balow said. “Within a few days of the initial school closures, all 48 districts, with the assistance of the WDE School Nutrition Team, seamlessly activated plans to feed kids. Families’ lives have been significantly disrupted by this pandemic, and schools are stepping up to provide support and stability for students.”

To access the contents of a particular school district plan, contact the school district directly.

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Media Contact:
Michelle Panos, Communications Director
307-777-2053
michelle.panos1@wyo.gov

State Superintendent Issues Guidance For Continuing Education During School Closures

CHEYENNE – In light of the extension of the three existing orders by Governor Mark Gordon and the Wyoming Department of Health to keep schools closed through April 17, Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow has issued guidance for school districts’ safe, but continued, operation during the extended closure.

“School doors may be closed to students, but Wyoming education is open for business,” Balow said. “The desire by teachers to connect with their students and provide learning opportunities has been inspiring. Teaching and learning while practicing social distancing is a new concept for many. Teachers, parents, and students all need support in order for it to be successful.”

Each Wyoming school district must have an Adapted Learning Plan approved by the Wyoming Department of Education prior to April 6 to continue to receive state funding. On Monday, April 6, every district is expected to continue to provide an equitable education for all students in grades
K-12 while access to school buildings is limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Adapted Learning Plans will allow each school district to deliver instruction through unique methods best suited to their district.

“We are working through immense challenges with laws, policies, practices, and logistics. The collaboration among state leaders and local districts has been incredible,” Balow said. “We are all working together to give our students the education they deserve during this trying time.”

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Media Contact:
Michelle Panos, Communications Director
307-777-2053
michelle.panos1@wyo.gov

COVID-19 Guidance Updates

Dear Superintendents,

Wyoming was approved to receive a federal waiver that will provide relief from certain accountability and assessment requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), including the spring assessment of the WY-TOPP. I recognize that there are many unanswered questions at this time. We are evaluating the impacts of the waiver and issue guidance to Wyoming school districts as soon as possible.

Memos:

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Wyoming Receives Federal Waiver from Assessment and Accountability Requirements

CHEYENNE – The U.S. Department of Education (USED) granted Wyoming a waiver Friday from certain federal assessment and accountability requirements in light of the widespread school closures due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. As a result, Wyoming students will not take the statewide assessment, WY-TOPP, this spring and no formal accountability determinations will be made for the 2019-20 school year.

“U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her team at USED responded to our waiver request within hours,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “The Wyoming Department of Education has already begun to evaluate the impacts of receiving the waiver and is working quickly and carefully to chart a path forward.

“By removing this testing burden from schools, districts will be better able to continue to focus on their students’ immediate needs during this unprecedented time.”

President Donald Trump announced the availability of waivers Friday morning and information was immediately sent to states on the waiver submission process. Specifically, the waiver removes requirements for the 2019-20 school year, of the assessment requirements in section 1111(b)(2) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the accountability and school identification requirements in sections 1111(c)(4) and 1111(d)(2)(C)-(D), and certain reporting requirements related to assessments and accountability in section 1111(h).

The Wyoming Department of Education will take public comment on the waiver through April 20, 2020. Comments can be submitted through an online form, or mailed to:

Wyoming Department of Education
Attn: Kari Eakins
122 West 25th Street
Suite E200
Cheyenne, WY 82002

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Media Contact:
Michelle Panos, Communications Director
307-777-2053
michelle.panos1@wyo.gov

Special Update from Superintendent Balow

Thank you for your time on the conference call this morning with me, Governor Gordon, Dr. Alexia Harrist and my staff from the WDE talking through issues associated with school closures. In light of the various questions please read carefully the memos below. Thank you again for your commitment to keeping students and staff safe with preparation and prevention.

Memos to be released:

  • 2020-040:   Temporary K-12 Block Grant Guidance
  • 2020-041:   COVID-19 Guidance Updates

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