August 5, 2020

Dear PYP Blacksmiths,

Welcome back to the 2020-2021 school year! We have missed your children and are excited to see all of them again whether it be remotely or in person. 

Our Fall semester will certainly be different from past years in many aspects. All staff, parents and students know the importance of returning to classrooms, however, this will not be the case until Monday, September 21st. We believe it is a measured and thoughtful approach to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone at Westlake Academy. 

Over the recent weeks you have received draft protocols which highlight the guidelines that will promote a healthy and safe environment. We have also published drafts of the learning plans for our staff and students. Included in the health plans we will utilize a layered approach to student safety. This includes mandatory wearing of masks, social distancing, three sided desk shields, supervised handwashing, sanitizing stations, refraining from gathering in large groups, HVAC air recirculation and upgraded filters, fine mist disinfector using a 360 degree sprayer, utilizing the outdoor spaces, plexi-glass in office spaces, and signage to aid in the education process of staff and students. Staff will be trained in these protocols during our orientation week beginning on August 12. When students return to campus for in person instruction, campus teachers and staff will involve students in practicing these protocols as a learning process with frequent daily routines. Additionally, we will utilize outside areas for learning in order for students to be active and take mask breaks. Fundamental to the success of our students’ and employees' return to the campus will be the cooperation of the whole community in complying with our health and safety reopening strategy. Without ensuring health and safety guidelines we cannot have a continuity of academic programs.

Remote learning will begin Monday, August 24th through Friday, September 18th and consist of both synchronous (real time or live instruction through technology devices) and asynchronous (students engaging in learning on their own time with ongoing direction from their teacher) learning activities, aligned with the Planning Guidance provided by TEA. The Primary Years Program academic protocols were provided to parents in a previous communication and our instructional emphasis will not only be on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, but continuing to emphasize and embrace Westlake Academy’s Vision, Mission and Values, in alignment with the IB PYP focus on Approaches to Learning, the Learner Profile, International Mindedness and an inquiry-based approach. Over the next few weeks further communication will be provided in regard to a detailed schedule for students to follow. Families can expect to spend the following average times per week:

  • Kindergarten-2nd: 2 hours 30 min (synchronous) plus and additional 3 hours (asynchronous)  
  • 3rd-5th grade: 3 hours (synchronous) plus and additional 2 hours 45 minutes (asynchronous)
The PYP leadership received very positive feedback from parents regarding their remote learning experiences during the Spring. Staff will review and adapt the program to ensure rigorous learning experiences and detailed assessment measures. They will also implement assessments at the beginning of the remote learning period, as is the case at the beginning of each academic year, to address and remediate learning gaps from students' previous learning.

The PYP leadership and staff know that the start of the 2020-2021 SY is not what parents had hoped and our health and safety protocols will not be to everyone’s liking. I am reminded of a previous meeting where it was stated that “Very few people are regretful by being over cautious”. This poignant sentence reflects Westlake Academy’s approach to the safe reopening of the campus.

Please join Ms. Paquin and me for a Facebook live event tomorrow at 4pm. We look forward to providing additional information and answering your questions. I also invite you to the Primary Back to School Night Facebook Live Event on Thursday, August 20th at 4pm.


Rod Harding 
PYP Principal 
Westlake Academy
Rod Harding
Westlake Academy
2600 J T Ottinger Road
(817) 490-5757