WASHINGTON ENGLISH CENTER SUSPENDS CLASSES, EFFECTIVE MARCH 12, 2020
Out of an abundance of caution for the health of our students and our volunteers, Washington English Center is suspending classes for the last two weeks of winter term, effective Thursday, March 12.
We wish to stress that, to date, no cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) have been reported at our school. We are making this decision proactively for the safety of our learning community and will continue to follow the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control.
We are monitoring the situation closely and will provide an update by the first week of April.
We look forward to welcoming everyone back to WEC once the safety of our community is assured. Until then, we wish you the best of health.
Originally posted: March 12, 2020
Last updated: March 12, 2020
Q: Why did WEC suspend classes?
A: After much reflection, we decided that waiting until a case appeared at WEC to cancel classes would be failing to adequately protect our community from transmission. We are saddened that we can’t continue the term with all of you, but the health of our students and volunteers is paramount.
Q: How has WEC communicated to students about the suspension of classes?
A: Students received an email and text message blast. We have also updated our website and voicemail, and posted on social media. WEC staff also stayed in the building on Thursday to greet any students who showed up.
Q: Even though classes are suspended, can we still come to WEC– to hold informal conversation clubs or to visit the student library?
A: No. Beginning Friday, March 13, WEC staff will be working remotely. You can still reach us via email; however, our physical offices, including the Library, will be closed. In keeping with recent public health advisories, we recommend that our volunteers and students avoid public spaces as much as possible, especially anywhere that “large groups” gather.
Q: Will students currently enrolled for the Winter term “graduate” (i.e., receive certificates of completion)?
A: Yes! In fact, we began distributing to students in-person even as we were sending out the news of our temporary closure. While the option exists to email electronic certificates to any student who needs one, our preferred method would be to hand them to students in person once WEC reopens.
Q: Has WEC considered online methods of instruction?
A: Yes. There are some unique challenges that come with adapting online instruction to WEC’s context, including that many of our students have limited access to and knowledge of technology. However, we are committed to finding ways to keep students engaged for as long as we need our physical location to be closed. Online instruction is an area that WEC staff will continue to explore closely over the coming weeks.
Q: What about final assessments for this term? Do we still need to complete rubrics for students?
A: The Academic Programs team is working out how to manage end-of-term close-out under these circumstances. We’ll be in touch early next week.
Q: I’m a tutor. Is it ok if I keep working with my student via Skype or Google Hangouts?
Q: What about Spring term– will it still kick off as planned on April 13?
A: We sincerely hope so, but we will continue to monitor the situation, with the health of our community being the top priority. Staff will be looking into ways to keep our community engaged online if we need to delay the start date. We will send everyone an update the first week of April.
Q: How will all of this affect WEC financially?
A: Like many nonprofits, we hope that the financial impact will be limited. However, the safety of our learning community (students and volunteers) is our highest priority. We will rely on the kindness and generosity of our donors now more than ever. If you would like to make a gift, please go here. Thank you.
Q: Are you still recruiting volunteers for Spring term?
A: Yes! Eventually this will pass; and, when it does, we want to be ready to fill our classes with students and volunteers. If you know anyone who might be interested in volunteering, please encourage them to apply via the link on our website’s volunteer page: washingtonenglish.org/volunteers
Q: What about the teacher orientation scheduled for April 4? Is it canceled?
A: We will make a decision about whether to hold orientation in-person closer to the date. Staff will also be exploring the possibility of moving some aspects of orientation online.
Q: I didn’t receive the first email about WEC classes being suspended. What could have happened?
A: Some volunteers have reported that the message went to their spam or promotions folders. Please check these folders. If you still do not see a message, please contact WEC staff and we will check that your email is in our distribution list.
Q: How do I return my textbook?
A: WEC staff will be working remotely effective Friday, March 13th. Please hold on to your textbook until we are able to welcome everyone back in to the school.
Q: Can I contact my students to wish them well?
A: Of course. Some students have contact information listed in Proactive. Feel free to send students a quick note wishing them the best. Know that students have varying levels of email savvy and cell access, so please don’t take it personally if students are not able to respond to you.