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Dear Parents & Guardians,
We are excited to welcome our new MSE scholars on August 17th. We want to make the transition from home/Pre-K to Kindergarten as seamless as possible. We have always invited parents to walk their Kindergartener to class on the first day of school in order to reduce anxiety on this very important day. This year we are faced with restrictions on the number of adults in the building. Therefore, if you choose to walk your Kindergarten student to class on the first day of school, you will need to follow the staggered times below:

Mrs. Gainey – 8:00 a.m.
Ms. Lavery – 8:30 a.m.
Ms. McKinney – 9:00 a.m.
Ms. Spicer – 9:30 a.m.

Your Kindergartener will not be counted tardy if you choose to walk them to class at the assigned start time. Please limit the number of adults to 2 and enter through the front office where you will be screened before gaining access to the classroom. Once at the classroom, we ask that you say a quick farewell and "I love you" so that we can be ready to receive the next class.

Of course, if your child rides the bus or you choose to utilize the parent drop off from 7:15-7:45, your Kindergartener’s start time will not be affected and they will be accompanied to class by an MSE staff member.

Cindy Neale

August 7, 2020

Re-opening Schools Update for Parents

We are now one week and one day away from re-opening our schools, and I wanted to update you on the key activities of the WCSD.

As employees returned to work, teachers and staff members were able to participate in a wide variety of trainings and meetings focused both on the re-opening of traditional school as well as our new Innovative Learning Digital Academy (ILDA) option. 

First, school principals kicked off the 2020-2021 school year at their respective schools.  Principals were able to share their school’s individual re-opening plans and procedures with staff, including schedules, lunch, special area, recess, arrival/dismissal, and more.  For questions and information that are school specific, please visit your school’s website for more information.

Second, the Curriculum and Instruction Department (C & I) provided numerous trainings for teachers and schools and continue to do so moving into next week.  Teachers are receiving advanced training from Microsoft on our ILDA platform, Microsoft TEAMS.  Teachers are also receiving training, have watched sample videos, and been able to troubleshoot the ILDA model.  C & I has created a new ILDA link on our website which includes frequently asked questions, video tutorials, and additional resources for parents and students.  C & I has also worked with special area teachers, such as art and music, to discuss specific safety protocols and procedures for art related topics, such as cleaning and sharing of materials.  C & I has also provided mental health trainings to better help staff support students when they return.

Third, the WCSD Safety Specialist was able to facilitate a training with school staff which included a presentation by Dr. Morell from the Florida Department of Health.  Dr. Morell specializes in communicable diseases and was able to provide both instructions on proper screening of employees and random screening of students as well as advisement on COVID-19 related concerns and questions.  Dr. Morell also spoke with all school nurses and was able to work through specific questions and sample scenarios that may occur within a school.  The WCSD has also posted the at home daily COVID-19 screener for parents of traditional students.

Finally, technology is preparing computers for ILDA and WVS school students as well as a new one-to-one initiative at our middle schools.  For students who are distance learning, schools will reach out to parents once computers are ready.

Thank you again for your support.   Please continue to check your school’s website for further information.  Many schools have provided written documents, videos, orientations, and/or live Q & A sessions to better help parents and prepare students for the August 17th return to school.

COVID-19 Daily Home Screening for Families

If yes is answered to any of the questions below, please keep your child home for the day. Yes should be answered for any symptom that is newly developed and is not something experienced chronically/ seasonally.

1. Is my child’s temperature 100.1°F or higher?
2. Does my child have a sore throat?
3. Does my child have a new uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing?
4. Does my child have diarrhea, vomiting, or abdominal pain?
5. Does my child have a new onset of a severe headache?
6. Has my child had close contact (6 feet for more than 15 minutes) with someone with COVID-19 during the onset of symptoms?
7. Has my child tested positive for COVID-19?

If yes is answered for #1-5, students can return when symptoms have improved after a 24-hour period, and child has been fever free without medication for 24 hours. If yes is answered for #6-7, please contact your school to develop a plan for a possible 10-14 day quarantine. If your child is absent from school, please remember to send in a parent or doctor’s note.

Maude Saunders School Advisory Council will meet on Thursday, August 13th at 3:30. Interested parents and community stakeholders should call the school at 850 892-1260 to get login information to join the meeting virtually. We welcome your participation and suggestions.

Please read the notice below to make sure you have completed everything needed to ensure your child is set to start school on August 17th.

Student Intent Form Update

The WCSD would like to thank all parents who completed the Student Intent Form which was provided as an online survey during the month of July.  We appreciate your declaration of your child’s educational intent for the fall semester.  This notification enables us to better prepare to welcome your child on Monday, August 17th

For parents who did not complete a Student Intent Form, the WCSD will prepare and firmly assume your child will attend a brick and mortar classroom.  As a district, we have received 9,000 Student Intent Forms; however, we are still lacking approximately 1,700 forms.  These intent forms also allow the district to create bus routes that will place 48 students or less on a bus, so to date, the district has only planned routes for those parents who have requested their child be a bus rider via our intent forms. 

For parents who have completed forms, approximately 900 parents have indicated that their child will attend Walton Virtual School (WVS); however, only 250 of those 900 families have followed up with WVS.  To attend WVS, families must withdraw from their current school and enroll in WVS.  If parents have not enrolled in WVS by Wednesday, August 12th, WCSD will also prepare and firmly assume those children will attend the district’s other distance learning option, the Innovative Learning Digital Academy (ILDA).  The benefits of ILDA is that students can remain enrolled in their current school.

If you have any questions, please reach out to us.  Questions can be text to our district at any time at 850.204.9667.  To follow up with WVS, please email, and/or any school can be reached by calling 850.892.1100.  Thank you for supporting us as we prepare to welcome all students back on Monday, August 17th.  

To the parents of the Walton County School District:

As August begins and teachers are welcomed back on Monday, I would like to provide several updates regarding the re-opening of schools.

First, I hope everyone received our update that school will now start for students on August 17th. This new date allows our faculty and staff to receive additional training days as we prepare for your child’s health and safety.

Second, I want to thank everyone who completed a Student Intent Survey. To date, we have received 8,531 responses. 71% of our parents have declared their child is returning to brick and mortar schools. 14% are utilizing the Innovative Learning Digital Academy (ILDA), which allows students to stay enrolled in their regular school, and 10% of families have chosen Walton Virtual School. The intent forms also show that 99% of our parents have committed to screening their children daily for COVID-19 and that 98% of parents already have access to a thermometer. Parent feedback shows that many previous bus riders (almost 20%) have indicated they will now be car riders which will help our district minimize the number of individuals on a bus. Due to this, we believe school start and end times will mirror what has been done in the past.

Third, I want to assure everyone that our school and district staff are working harder than ever before to safely, effectively, and innovatively welcome your children back. It would be too lengthy to list every item, but the following is a quick summary of major initiatives by topic for our stakeholders:

* Safety – A Re-opening Task Force has been meeting since May to develop plans to re-open schools. Task force members include representatives from the Florida Department of Health, Walton County Emergency Management, school principals, teachers, Education Support Personnel, district staff, and WCSD parents. A Re-opening Safety Plan has been written and will be provided and explained to all employees as they return next week, and a Re-opening Frequently Asked Questions handout was posted on our website for parents.

* Facilities – Each school facility will require employees to pass a COVID-19 screener in order to enter. Safety supplies have been ordered and are arriving daily, including masks, clear face shields, and gloves. Each individual classroom will be provided with sanitization materials. Hand sanitizing stations and social distancing signage are being installed in hallways and common areas, and isolation rooms have been identified. Plant managers have been trained just this week on how to properly oversee the cleaning and disinfecting of each of our facilities.

* Transportation – Bus drivers also came in this week to learn how to sanitize their buses. Drivers were trained on how to seat students as well as how to encourage all students to wear masks.

* Communication – Updates have been made regularly to our website and social media accounts. Surveys have been conducted among various stakeholders, such as parents and employees. Our district also held a Virtual Town Hall, which was recorded and is available on our website. During the meeting, over 60 questions were answered live. A new text line (850.204.9667) has also been set up in addition to a Let’s Talk link on our webpage where questions and concerns can be submitted at any hour of the day. Over 600 questions have been answered since March with a less than 9-hour initial response time.

* Curriculum and Instruction (C & I) – Preparations are being made to train teachers on how to best assess students when they return. Teachers will be encouraged to accelerate students learning in order to gain momentum and ensure children are on grade level and beyond. A new webpage was created that explains more about our Innovative Learning Digital Academy and our Walton Virtual School. We are recording training videos as we speak to help teachers effectively deliver instruction virtually both in person and virtually. Mental health is also a focus. We have curriculum ready to help students transition back to school; teach character traits, such as personal space and responsibility; and provide support to students with traumatic situations, especially for those whose families may have been affected by the virus.

* Technology – Middle schools are preparing for a one-to-one computer initiative. Devices are also being prepped for virtual learners. Videos are also being made for teachers to show how to utilize technology resources in case students are absent and instruction can continue seamlessly.

* Human Resources – New employees were brought back this week to receive training in “The Walton County Way” which includes a focus on EPIC – Excellence, Professionalism, Innovation, and Collaboration. Specialized trainings are also being prepared and will be delivered over the next few weeks for many different employee groups from nurses to food service workers.

* Finance – After receiving additional federal funds, such as the CARES Act, finance is helping to appropriate and create opportunities to support schools, such as the hiring of additional custodians and digital learning specialists.

* Athletics and Extra Curricular Activities – Athletic directors are meeting regularly to discuss safety measures and plan appropriately for upcoming sports seasons, and groups, such as band directors, have met to discuss use of face shields and innovative ideas for instruments and concerts.

* School principals – All schools in the district are wrapping up summer school, Extended School Year, and summer SPICE programs, which represents 5% of our school population. These small groups of students, which were on campus throughout the months of June and July, have allowed school principals and their leadership teams to create school-based safety plans and procedures with their entire school population in mind. Principals are also diligently working on additional innovative ideas, such as block scheduling, special area schedules, lunch schedules, and traffic flow. Many schools will continue to share their specific safety plans at school orientations and on their school websites before August 17th.

Finally, I want you to know that I have challenged my staff daily to create a balance for you and your family. On one hand, we are focused on what has always been our number one priority - health and safety. We are learning about new topics daily, some of which we have never had to encounter at the school level, but we want and will have the best plans and procedures in place for our children and employees. On the other hand, I want to also praise my staff for helping to create a sense of normalcy for your child. As we speak, custodians are prepping classrooms, and principals are creating back to school themes. Teachers are preparing lesson plans, and mechanics are prepping school buses. We miss our students so much. We are excited and feel such a sense of urgency to not only welcome children back but to teach and continue our high expectations to be the best in the state in the most safe and healthy environment possible.

Thank you for continuing to support the Walton County School District. Your belief in our district and our employees means so much to us.


A Russell Hughes


PTO Nominations 2020-2021

August 1, 2020

Please email nominations for President, Vice-President, Secretary and/or Treasures to

In response to the new school start date of August 17th, we have also pushed back our orientation dates by one week. Each K-2 class will be assigned a one-hour time for in-person orientation. Letters will be mailed home the first week of August to let you know the teacher's name and time of orientation. In order to maintain proper distancing, a maximum of 2 adults per child will be admitted.

K-2 Orientation dates are:

2nd grade - Wednesday, August 12th

1st grade - Thursday, August 13th

Kindergarten - Friday, August 14th

Third, fourth, and fifth grade students will participate in virtual orientations. Letters will be mailed home with instructions for joining the on-line meeting with their teacher.

Virtual Town Hall

July 13, 2020

Superintendent A. Russell Hughes will hold a virtual town hall to discuss the WCSD Re-Opening Plan with a live Q&A session on Monday, July 13, 2020 at 6 pm. You can access this discussion via the district website at

Re-Opening Plan

July 8, 2020

Due to the Commissioner of Education’s Emergency Order No. 2020-EO-06, the Walton County School District will now release our Re-opening Plan for the 2020-2021 school year by end of business on Wednesday, July 8th.  Thank you for being understanding and supportive as we create the best plan for our students and our employees.