School district releases plans to reopen Athens public schools, seeks parent input


The Clarke County School District's plans to reopen public schools in Athens-Clarke County were released Tuesday afternoon in a letter to parents from interim Schools Superintendent Xernona Thomas. The letter reads as follows:


Dear CCSD Parents and Guardians,

Thank you for your continued patience and support as we prepare for the Fall 2020 school year. We received over six thousand electronic and printed surveys that helped us prepare several instructional options for the upcoming school year. The Clarke County School District is excited to announce school will tentatively begin on Monday, August 3, 2020, with options for in-person and distance/digital learning models for students. We acknowledge that our start date may need to be adjusted as we continue to examine the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Athens and the surrounding area.

In-person and distance/digital learning options will be made available for pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students. High school students will have three options, which include hybrid (in- person and digital/distance), fully digital/distance learning, or enrollment in Georgia Virtual School (limited enrollment for Juniors and Seniors only). We look forward to welcoming students and staff back in August and will adjust our plans to adhere to state guidelines as needed.

The information below provides more details regarding enhanced safety protocols and learning models for Fall 2020. After reviewing this information, we ask families to fill out a Survey: School Reopening Options to share plans regarding transportation and instructional preferences. The survey will close on Monday, July 13, 2020.

Families will be asked to make an official commitment regarding in-person or digital learning plans via another form that will be sent out on July 14, 2020, and due by July 17, 2020. For families that do not make a selection, their child will automatically be enrolled in in-person instruction (Pre-K-8) and hybrid (high school).

Enhanced Safety Protocols

To mitigate the spread of infection and viruses, the following measures will be put in place:

• Students and staff will be expected to stay home if they are sick.

• The district will provide PPE to all staff. In addition, students will be provided face coverings if needed.

• Students and staff will be encouraged to wear face coverings at all times and required when social distancing is not possible. Exceptions will be made for students with disabilities or extenuating circumstances. Students will be required to wear masks when riding the school bus.

• To every extent possible, socially distanced spaces will be created in buildings and classrooms.

• There will be an increased emphasis placed on practicing illness prevention, including hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, with reminder signage in all buildings.

• Breakfast and lunch will be served in the classroom.

• Classrooms and school buses will be sanitized daily.

• Teachers will be provided with sanitizing wipes to clean students' desks prior to transitions.

• Temperature checks may be required if recommended by local health authorities.

• Limited visitors will be allowed in buildings. Parents will be asked to drop students off at the door and will not be allowed to walk students to class.


Learning Models

Early Learning Center and Pre-K

Pre-K, Head Start, Early Head Start, and Preschool Special Education programs will offer the following options:

1. Option 1: In-person instruction will take place Monday—Thursday, with Friday being

designated as a distance learning day for all students. Bus pickup and school start times will be impacted to achieve social distancing for bus riders.

2. Option 2: Distance learning will provide live and video-recorded lessons as well as distance

learning packets. A major commitment from families will be needed to support this learning model. Students will engage with both on-grade level and supplementary materials based on their academic needs. Parents will be asked to send photos and videos of their child engaging in learning activities. Students will be required to make monthly in-person visits to their school during the first semester to be assessed (e.g., diagnostic assessment, interim assessments). Students must be enrolled in this model for 9 weeks before transitioning to in- person instruction if desired.

Early Learning Instructional models will be implemented following specific grant guidelines and requirements that support student learning expectations and school readiness.

Elementary

1. Option 1: In-person instruction will take place Monday—Thursday, with Friday being

designated as a digital learning day for all students. Bus pickup and school start times will be impacted to achieve social distancing for bus riders.

2. Option 2: Distance/digital learning will provide live and video recorded instruction. A major

commitment from families will be needed to support this learning model. Students will engage with both on-grade level and supplementary materials based on their academic needs. Students will be required to make a minimum of 3 in-person visits to their home school during the first semester to be assessed (e.g., diagnostic assessment, interim assessments). Students must be enrolled in this model for 9 weeks before transitioning to in-person instruction if desired.

Middle

1. Option 1: In-person instruction will take place Monday—Thursday, with Friday being

designated as a digital learning day for all students. Bus pickup and school start times will be impacted to achieve social distancing for bus riders.

2. Option 2: Distance/digital learning will provide live and video recorded instruction through Edgenuity with supplemental support from teachers through Google Classroom. A major commitment from families will be needed to support this learning model. Students will engage with both on-grade level and supplementary materials based on their academic needs. Students will be required to make a minimum of 4 in-person visits to the school during the first semester to be assessed. Students must be enrolled in this model for 9 weeks before transitioning to in-person instruction if desired.

High 1. Option 1: Hybrid instruction will take place on an A-B Group schedule rotation. Students assigned to the A-Group will attend in-person classes on Mondays and Wednesdays. Students assigned to the B-Group will attend school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. When students are not assigned to in-person instruction, including Fridays, students will engage in digital/distance learning. Bus pickup and school start times will be impacted to achieve social distancing for bus riders.

2. Option 2: Fully distance/digital learning will provide live and video recorded instruction

through Edgenuity with supplemental support from teachers through Google Classroom. A major commitment from families will be needed to support this learning model. Students will be required to make a minimum of 4 in-person visits to the school during the first semester to be assessed. Students must be enrolled in this model for the entire semester and will not be allowed to switch to the hybrid model.

3. Option 3: Georgia Virtual School (GaVS) will require students to enroll in all four courses for

the semester. GaVS has over 100 course offerings in the core content areas, world languages, CTAE, electives, and a vast AP course selection. This option will only be available to Junior and Seniors without prior approval from school administration. Once enrolled, students and families must communicate with GaVS teachers if a concern arises; our school administration does not have oversight of GaVS programming or teachers. Although students will be fully enrolled in GaVS, we will still provide school guidance counselor support as needed.

Athens Community Career Academy

ACCA will follow CCSD safety protocols for in-person instruction. We are working with Athens Technical College to create an instructional plan that will be provided at a later date.

Dual Enrollment

If your child is enrolled in a dual enrollment program with a partnering postsecondary institution, he/she must follow the enrollment expectations of the college or university. Those requirements will supersede CCSD requirements for course completion.

Athletics and Extracurricular Activities

We are currently using guidance from the Georgia High School Association to prepare for fall sports. Several protocols have been put in place to ensure student-athlete and staff safety: GHSA Statements on Coronavirus. We are also planning for high school cheerleading, marching band, and JROTC participation. We will ensure that these extracurricular activities implement safety protocols that are aligned to GHSA and based on guidance from their national and state organizations.

Other extracurricular activities that require in-person participation will be delayed until more safety guidelines are established.

After School Programs

We will explore the need for after-school programming and PSP for all elementary and middle school students receiving in-person instruction. Students who are enrolled in digital/distance learning will not be able to participate in ASP or PSP programming.

Please complete the following survey by Monday, July 13, 2020: Survey: School Reopening Options. We look forward to your responses and providing a safe, academic environment for our students, staff, and families.

Sincerely,

Xernona Thomas, Ed.D. Interim Superintendent


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