Superintendent's Blog

  • Covid Rapid Testing and Spring Break Facility Updates

    Posted by Adam Spina on 4/16/2021 12:15:00 PM

    Next week Williamston will resume in-person learning options for students at Williamston Middle School. Upon the recommendation of the Ingham County Health Department, Williamston High School will stay remote for an additional week. 

    As we strive to provide as many in-person learning opportunities as possible, I want to reiterate that it is essential that families experiencing Covid symptoms or who have had known close contacts with Covid positive individuals do not send their children for in-person instruction. This choice will require the District to commence a contract tracing process that might lead to other students needing to quarantine. Many of these instances are preventable. Please stay vigilant and thank you again to our parents for the many sacrifices you are making to keep our school community safe. 

    To further assist parents to ensure their children have not been exposed to Covid, WCS will now provide optional rapid Covid tests on a weekly basis. The tests are free and will be offered in the fitness center wing of Williamston High School every Tuesday and Thursday that school is in session from 3:30 - 4:30 pm. The testing will begin on Tuesday, April 20. Important details are listed below:

    • A consent form must be completed by parents every time a student is tested. The form must have an original signature if the student is under the age of 18
    • Consent forms can be downloaded here. Paper copies will be available at the testing location
    • Parents will be contacted only if the rapid test indicates a positive result and will typically be within two hours of test administration. Positive results from the rapid test should be validated with a PCR test given by a medical professional
    • Negative test results will not be communicated. Copies of testing paperwork will not be provided
    • Consent forms and testing paperwork will be stored in compliance with student medical record-keeping requirements

    Contact Mr. Paige Paulsen for additional information at paulsep@gowcs.net

    Finally, I want to thank our custodial and maintenance teams for their hard work on many projects throughout the District over spring break. Some examples are listed below.

    Updated landscaping throughout the District including outside the Central Office entrance:

    New landscaping outside Central Office

    New paint and carpet in select Williamston Middle School classrooms:

    Updated middle school classrooms

    Updates to the layout of the library at Williamston High School:

    Updated high school library layout

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  • Spring Break 2021

    Posted by Adam Spina on 3/25/2021 6:20:00 PM

    Many families will be taking advantage of spring break to take long-postponed vacations or visit relatives. WCS will not impose any quarantine restrictions on students or staff who travel over the break. Attempting to do so falls outside the purview of the District and is unenforceable. However, we do want to remind families that sending a Covid positive student to in-person class has non-negotiable consequences which are also outside the District’s control to change. Not only will the Covid positive student need to isolate, but all other students in close contact with that student will also need to quarantine for 10 days, with four additional days of close monitoring. Student-athletes cannot return to practice or competition for 14 days if they are a close contact. It is easy to see how even limited instances of possible exposure will have a significant impact on in-person learning and co-curricular opportunities. 

    Rapid Covid testing sessions will be available in the days following spring break to assist families with ensuring their child can safely return to school. Any positive result will typically be known within 30 minutes. Available testing times, registration links, and locations are listed below:

    Saturday, April 10: 

    Sunday, April 11:

    • Ingham Intermediate School District, Mason, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm (see flyer below for more information)
    • Williamston High School, Athletic Entrance, 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm (no pre-registration, parents will need to be present to fill out consent forms for children). Contact Paige Paulsen at paulsep@gowcs.net for more information

    Tuesday, April 13:

    Wednesday, April 14:

    Post spring break we continue to ask families to screen their children daily for any Covid related symptoms and err on the side of caution if there is any uncertainty. Our parent community has done a phenomenal job throughout this school year with this critical step. 

    Wishing you a safe and restful spring break, whether you are taking a trip or enjoying a “staycation” beginning Friday, April 2. We look forward to welcoming our students back for the homestretch of the school year on Monday, April 12.

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  • Calendar and School Schedule Updates

    Posted by Adam Spina on 2/19/2021 7:15:00 AM

    I continue to be immensely proud of our team here at WCS. They have worked tirelessly making preparations for returning our elementary students to a full day of school and expanding in-person learning opportunities for secondary students. We remain on pace to make this transition on March 1st. As our county superintendent noted in a recent article, now is the time for this to happen. That said, there will inevitably be some revisions to aspects of our model as it is evaluated over the first couple of weeks. Thank you in advance for your patience. Additionally, the District will be prepared to adjust to any new Covid related developments provided by updated guidance from health officials. Please continue to check classroom and school newsletters for more information. 

    As communicated previously, Friday, February 26 will be a non-instructional day for in-person elementary students (Young-Fives through Fifth-Grade). This will allow time for staff to finalize logistics in advance of students returning on Monday, March 1st. All fully remote elementary sections will continue to receive instruction and the hybrid model at the secondary buildings will be unchanged on this date. 

    The deadline for post-March 1st transportation changes is Monday, February 22 at 4:00 pm. Please contact the bus garage at (517) 655-1011. 

    Effective March 1st, the District’s inclement weather plan will also be revised. On days where buses cannot safely operate and/or when roads are deemed unsafe for teenage drivers, WCS will be closed for instruction, including remote learning. Notifications will continue to be made via School Messenger. Road conditions in Williamston (to include roads in all parts of our district) may differ greatly. If you disagree with a decision to keep the schools open, it is always your right to keep your child at home. If you make this choice, please contact the appropriate school office so we know where your child is and that he or she is safe.

    Elementary Full Day Information, beginning March 1st:

    Middle School Schedule, beginning March 1st:

    High School Schedule, beginning March 1st:

    The Buzz Update will be taking a hiatus for a few weeks. Stay safe and thank you for your continued support.

    Kindergarten Orientation:

    Kindergarten Orientation 2021

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  • Student Mental Health Resources

    Posted by Adam Spina on 2/12/2021 7:05:00 AM

    WCS has numerous mental health resources available for students and parents. The links below will connect you to age-appropriate materials. If you or your child are in need of support, please contact your child’s school. Mental health professionals are available to help. 

    Little Hornets Preschool

    Discovery and Explorer Elementary

    Williamston Middle School

    The WMS Mental Health Google Classroom site for students is also available (students must be signed into their gowcs account to access this resource). Details can be found in the weekly Hive Jive newsletter.

    Williamston High School

    The WHS Mental Health Google Classroom site for students is also available (students must be signed into their gowcs account to access this resource). More information can be found in any edition of the WHS News and Notes newsletter.

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  • Phase 2 Transition and Sherwood Road Property Bidding Process

    Posted by Adam Spina on 2/4/2021 7:35:00 AM

    As communicated previously, WCS will be transitioning to Phase 2 of its reopening plan. Phase 2 allows for a slightly truncated full-day schedule for elementary students and increases in-person learning opportunities for secondary students. The projected start date is March 1, 2021. During the intervening period, building-specific plans and protocols will be finalized. These details will be communicated from your child’s school. We will continue to carefully monitor reopening guidance from state and local health officials. As we move through the last few months of the school year, the District will retain the capability to scale down to Phase 1 (current model) or scale up to Phase 3 (full-day learning opportunities for all PreK-12 students). 

    We are approaching the one year anniversary of Covid-19 closing our buildings to students. We understand the profound impact this pandemic had, and continues to have, on student learning and mental health, also the financial and employment status of families in our community. This road has been very rough.

    WCS remains committed to expanding in-person learning opportunities for our students. We know this is the most effective and healthy way for our students to receive an education. At the same time, we remain diligent and responsive to protect against the spread of the virus. Finding the best path forward is not easy. However, the consensus opinion of health officials indicates now is the time to offer more in-person learning. This guidance assures us that the District is headed in the right direction. 

    I am uniquely proud of our community and our staff. I have been closely observing other districts as they accelerate their reopening plans. They have not all received the same grace, understanding, and determination demonstrated by our staff and parents. I have seen time and time again members of our staff provide selfless service even when confronted with uncertainty. I know parents who are sacrificing to make sure their children only attend school when they are healthy. On a personal and professional level, I greatly appreciate and sincerely acknowledge these gifts. More importantly, as a community, we continue to move together through this journey that has yet to reach its conclusion. 

    Sherwood Road Property:

    The District is seeking bids to lease its farmland property on Sherwood Road. The property totals 124 acres of which 114 acres are usable for agricultural purposes. Bids will be accepted until noon on Tuesday, February 16, 2021. More information is available in the links below:

    Notice of Conditions of Bid

    Bid Form

    Farm Lease Agreement

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  • First Robotics and MSUFCU Student Art Exhibit

    Posted by Adam Spina on 1/27/2021 4:35:00 PM

    First Robotics:

    The Williamston First Robotics Teams will be starting their third season at the high school and second at the middle school. First Robotics is an excellent opportunity for students who want to advance STEAM education opportunities, meet new friends, and have fun. For high school juniors and seniors, there are college scholarship opportunities available. Teams will be offering meetings, both in-person and remotely, to accommodate all interested students. Since their inception, the District has received grant monies to support our First Robotics teams. These awards include a $25,000 contribution, received last year, that was used to create our First Robotics Lab at the high school. This lab is used by both teams. 

    For more information, contact the First Robotics coaches:

    WHS: Cody Reeve: reevec@gowcs.net

    WMS: Megan Allen: allenm@gowcs.net

    First Robotics Flyer

    MSUFCU Student Art Exhibit:

    Support Williamston Student Artists by voting for their entries during the annual MSUFCU Student Art Exhibit.

    MSUFCU Exhibit 2021 Student Art

    Artwork submitted by Williamston students and other students from throughout the region can be viewed at msufcuart.com. Votes will be tabulated from January 27th - February 24th.

    MSUFCU Art Exhibit

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  • Updates to the District Calendar and January/February District Podcast

    Posted by Adam Spina on 1/21/2021 11:00:00 AM

    January/February District Podcast:

    Listen to the District Podcast here.

    The Podcast can also be accessed at the following links:

    ___________________________________

    Calendar Updates:

    Three dates have been revised on the 2020-2021 District Calendar:

     Friday, February 12. Now a Full Day of Instruction

       (formerly AM Half Day, PM Professional Development)

     Friday, March 5. Now a Non-Instructional Day and Professional Development Day

       (formerly AM Half Day, PM Professional Development)

     Thursday, March 18. Now a Non-Instructional Day for Conferences

    (formerly AM Half Day)

    The changes will provide more continuity for our in-person cohorts and provide additional time for parents and staff to participate in spring conferences.


    To download a copy of the most recent version of the 2020-2021 calendar (as of January 19, 2021), select the link here. The calendar tab on the District website has also been updated.

    Comments (-1)
  • Instructional Excellence Continues in a Pandemic

    Posted by Adam Spina on 1/14/2021 3:20:00 PM

    Even before the pandemic, WCS was a leading district in blended learning methodology. Professional development and a focus on utilizing new tools to enhance traditional instruction have accelerated over the last 10 months. In addition to the adoption of numerous other resources, educators at WCS have demonstrated their proficiency in integrating the Google Suite of educational tools into their instruction. An impressive number of teachers and administrators have achieved either Level 1 or Level 2 Google Certification by passing a timed online assessment that requires the ability to simultaneously manipulate multiple Google tools in the context of various educational settings/scenarios. This is a nationally recognized distinction that will benefit students in Williamston well after the pandemic subsides. The following is a list of WCS educators who have earned Google Educator Certification.    

     

    Level 1 Google Certified Educators:

    Ms. Bollis - WMS

    Mr. Brillantes - WMS

    Ms. Byelich - Explorer

    Mr. Chamberlain - WHS

    Dr. Cook - Central Office

    Mr. Duffey - WHS

    Ms. Eddy - WMS

    Mr. Ellis - WHS

    Ms. Emmons - Discovery

    Mr. Hampton - WMS

    Ms. Heide - Explorer

    Mr. Herek - WHS

    Ms. Hill - WMS

    Ms. Hodgson - Explorer

    Ms. Jones - Explorer 

    Ms. Langhart - WMS

    Ms. Long - Explorer

    Ms. Mitchell - WHSA

    Ms. Norman - Explorer

    Ms. O’Rourke - WHS

    Ms. Pfander - Discovery

    Mr. Rasmus - WHS

    Ms. Roberts - Explorer

    Ms. Scott - Discovery

    Ms. Shannon - Discovery

    Ms. Smith - Discovery

    Dr. Spina - Central Office

    Ms. Wade - WHS

       

     

    Level 2 Google Certified Educators:

    Ms. Allen - WHS

    Mr. Armour - WHS

    Ms. Brummitt - Explorer

    Ms. Cruce - WMS

    Ms. Davidson - WMS

    Dr. Delp - WHS

    Ms. Nolen - WHS

    Ms. Richards - WHS

     

     

    Congratulations to these educators on your achievement and thank you for continuing to invest in your profession for the betterment of our students. 

     

    ________________________________

     

    Williamston High School will begin its cohort-based instructional plan on Monday, 25 January. This decision was made after observing and validating the middle school plan which was implemented for all applicable grade levels this past week. I am grateful to our staff for their outstanding work. I am also appreciative of our parents for their support with making in-person learning at our secondary buildings a reality by preparing their children for the new safety protocols. 

     

    ________________________________

     

    Williamston was prioritized for educator vaccinations in Ingham County as we were one of just a few districts to have in-person instruction available to our students. Educators began receiving the first dose of vaccines this past Monday. While this is a significant development, it will not decrease our vigilance in observing safety practices. We are well aware that the vaccine is not yet available to most of our community and we will continue to implement recommended safety measures to protect against community spread. In the meantime, we are working on plans to resume a full-day instructional model. More information will be forthcoming when available. 

     

    ________________________________

     

    Best of luck to WHS Junior, Gwen, who will be competing for a swimming state championship this weekend in Lake Orion.

    Comments (-1)
  • Welcome 2021!

    Posted by Adam Spina on 1/7/2021 4:05:00 PM

    Happy New Year! 2021 is off to a great start as WCS welcomed back 6th-grade students to in-person learning this week. The Middle School will reopen for 7th and 8th-grade students on Monday, January 11. Students have done an excellent job of abiding by the Covid-19 safety protocols. We continue to appreciate the collaboration with parents which allows our buildings to add more in-person learning opportunities over the course of this school year. As always, if you have any questions about safety guidelines, contact your child’s school office. 

    New Williamston Middle School students attend an orientation session led by the WMS Peer Assistance Leadership and Service (PALS) group before returning for in-person learning this week:

    Middle School orientation

    Additional good news includes the District’s overall financial rating. After completing their most recent assessment, Moody’s upgraded our rating by two positions. WCS has now moved up on Moody’s system three times in the last two years, analysts have remarked that this improvement is “uncommon.” The financial outlook for WCS remains positive and we project continued improvement this year, despite challenges created by the pandemic. Read the Yahoo Finance article on the District’s improving financial outlook here

    Finally, best of luck to our football team, which continues in the state playoffs on Saturday, January 9th -- in what may be the longest high school football season in history. Go Hornets!

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  • Winter Holidays and Hybrid Learning Plans in January

    Posted by Adam Spina on 12/18/2020 7:35:00 AM

    To start, I want to wish all our families and community members a very happy holiday season. We have been through a lot this year. I hope the holidays provide opportunities to safely celebrate and rejuvenate. I look forward to better days ahead. 

    Post winter break, we are continuing the cohorted PreK-5 in-person learning opportunities. Additionally, we will begin our in-person cohorts at Williamston Middle School. If you are the parent of a WMS student interested in having your child attend an in-person cohort, carefully review recent and upcoming correspondence from that school. You will find information regarding schedules, safety protocols, transportation, and other important details. 

    View the Williamston Middle School Welcome Back 2021 Screencast here.

    Williamston High School will potentially begin in-person cohorted groups at the end of January. Decisions for starting will be based on a number of factors. High school parents have received communication detailing the criteria to commence in-person cohorts. A link to the parent letter is here. Until then, the high school will continue to offer a robust in-person support schedule accessible to students based on need or upon request. 

    In order to continue to offer in-person learning options for families in this Covid-19 environment, we need to maintain open lines of communication. These have been successfully established; your ongoing commitment is vital. If your family is exposed to a high-risk circumstance or has a known exposure/close contact with a person who is confirmed positive during the holidays, please err on the side of caution. Wait to return your child to school until the quarantine period has ended. Similarly, if applicable symptoms occur in your household, delay returning your child to in-person learning until Covid has been ruled out. For those traveling over the holidays, CDC guidance on safe travel can be found at the link here. As always, contact your child’s school office with any questions. 

    Thank you for the ongoing partnership and collaboration. Wishing all of Williamston a safe and healthy 2021.

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Executive Assistant

Phone: (517) 655-4361

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Mrs. Betsy Rueckert