WAPS will remain closed, begin distance learning March 31

Empty lockers at WSHS

Lockers sit empty at Winona Senior High School during the ordered school closure.

Hello WAPS community — 

Earlier today, Gov. Tim Walz announced that all schools in Minnesota, including Winona Area Public Schools, will remain closed through Monday, May 4 as part of the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

During this time, all activities, events and facility rentals are canceled or postponed. Because of the governor’s executive order, all school buildings and the district office will be closed through Monday, May 4.

However, daily instruction will resume. For the past two weeks, teachers and staff have been preparing to institute distance learning plans at each grade level, and those lessons will begin Tuesday, March 31. Monday, March 30 will remain a staff workshop day.

Distance learning is defined by the Minnesota Department of Education as providing students with access to appropriate educational materials and ensuring they receive daily interaction with their licensed teacher(s).

Distance learning will replace regular instruction and daily participation is mandatory. This instruction is aligned to our academic standards and prepares students for their next grade level.

What does this mean for your family? We are still in the process of finalizing these plans. Once we do, they will be posted on winonaschools.org by the end of the day on Friday, March 27. If you do not have access to the internet, you can request a printed packet by calling the district office at 507-494-0861. While the buildings will be closed, emails and voicemails will be checked regularly.

The distance learning plan will include how teachers can be reached, expectations for attendance and assignments, ways to access support services from counselors and more. 

Here are a few other things to keep in mind: 

  • We are committed to providing students and families with what they need in order to ensure that every student receives an equitable education and has equitable access to learning and instruction. If you are unable to afford internet access, we have outlined in the district learning plan local providers who are willing to help with no-cost or low-cost options.
  • For students in grades K-4, we will be using paper instruction packets for at least the first two weeks. We would like you to pick up these packets from our school buildings on Thursday, March 26 or Friday, March 27. All students will also receive a device to use. More information is coming in a separate communication later today.
  • We will continue to provide free meals to all students and free child care to emergency workers
  • If you need to contact a teacher or staff member, please use email or leave a message on their voicemail, which will be forwarded to their email.

Distance learning will continue until at least April 30. Per the governor’s executive order, Friday, May 1 and Monday, May 4 are set aside to prepare school buildings for the return of students on Tuesday, May 5. The earliest date students will return to school buildings is Tuesday, May 5.

Please know that we have been diligently working together to provide an equitable experience that meets the needs of all learners in our district. We hope we will continue to have your patience, understanding and support as we transition to putting our work into practice. 

Thank you,

Dr. Annette K. Freiheit
Winona Area Public Schools