Superintendent's Report

To:  Woodland Public Schools Board of Directors

From:  Michael Green, Superintendent

Date: September 24, 2020

Regarding: September Superintendent's Report

Remote Learning Continues

I continue to be impressed by the teaching and learning that is occurring in our classrooms.  Remote instruction is very difficult for teachers and students alike.   The act of face-to-face instruction that so many of our teachers have mastered and become expert with is vastly different from what they experience on-line.   Our teachers are doing an amazing job of taming the online beast and teaching very effectively in this challenging medium.   We still are working through challenges with technology and connectivity.   Hot spots are back-ordered, and sometimes the systems just get glitchy.  I sat in a CLC group on Tuesday afternoon and had one student whose microphone wasn't working (she used the chatbox to communicate) and another whose camera caused her system to freeze. Teachers and students alike demonstrated persistence and flexibility through those challenges.

Planning for Continued Remote Option

Our elementary leaders continue to refine their plans for providing an option to those students who wish to remain remote when we restart face-to-face instruction. Hardware tools continue to arrive (Televisions, Stands, ChromeBoxes, Cameras, etc.), and our amazing technologists are doing a fantastic job of setting those tools up.

In-Person Opportunities for Instruction Increasing

Woodland's teachers, support staff, and administrators have been working hard to ensure that all students are engaged and learning in this very challenging time. The number of students who are receiving in-person support is increasing across the district.  In-person support is being offered to students with connectivity challenges, disengagement, disability, etc.  We are working hard to segregate students so that they are in small groups (WHS has given them the moniker "bubble") and avoiding the potential spread of SARS CoV-2.

Reopening Schools

It was fully expected that at this board meeting, we would be discussing the reopening of our elementary schools to face-to-face instruction.  You will remember that the Cowlitz County Health and Human Services folks wanted to monitor data for a period of time following the Labor Day weekend to make sure we would not experience a spike in COVID-19 similar to those experienced following Memorial Day and 4th of July.

The key metric, positive cases per 100,000 population have remained in the moderate range  (between 25-75 cases per 100K in a two week period) for 6 1/2 weeks.  They even dipped into the low range (<25/100K) for a week. These data are published weekly by CCHHS. In a meeting late last week, Deputy Director of Health, Dr. Steve Kraeger, thought he would be ready to recommend reopening Cowlitz County elementary schools beginning September 26th.  And then the weekend came.

For several weeks the daily numbers of positive cases in Cowlitz have been between 0 and 5, with a daily average in the first 13 days of September of 1.85 cases per day.   Late last week, the numbers began a rapid increase, with an average between September 14 and September 19 of 8.3 cases per day. (These data are incomplete because of test reporting delays)   

For now, Cowlitz County Health and Human Services recommend continuing remote learning until the extent of the spike in cases is determined.

Notably, many of the newly reported cases came from Woodland.  The predominant Zip Code in Woodland 98674 now has the highest cumulative rate of COVID infection in Cowlitz County.  Zip code 98674 also has the fastest rate of growth in new infections. Multiple Woodland staff members who have either tested positive or are quarantined because of exposure to a COVID positive person.

The data in the chart below is taken from the daily summary sheets published by Cowlitz Health.  The light blue line is the data for 98674.

CCHHS will continue to monitor the outbreak and advise us regarding their recommendation on reopening.