The Wilson County Schools Board of Education got its first look June 8 at the planning going into the upcoming school year amid the coronavirus pandemic and the accompanying uncertainty.
The district is working on three scenarios — school opens as normal on Aug. 3, schools remain closed and learning is done remotely, and a hybrid, where some attend school and some learn remotely.
Director of Schools Donna Wright and Supervisor of Educator Effectiveness Christina Harris, who is leading the planning effort, both emphasized that no final decisions have been made about how to proceed with the next school year. Uncertainties remain about what the status of the pandemic will be in August and what direction will or might come from the state and even federal government.
“We’re stepping into a new world and we have no idea what’s going to happen and we’ve got to be prepared,” Wright said.
Nearly 100 district employees have been involved in the planning effort, Harris told the board, led by a committee of 13, each of whom leads a subcommittee charged with specific areas. These include operations, technology, curriculum, accountability and health and athletics.
“We’re trying to help principals create these really strong reentry plans that meet the needs of the people who haven’t been with us in quite some time,” Harris said. “It’s been five months since they’ve been in school, almost six by the time we come back, and we need to welcome these students and staff members back into the buildings with a lot of love and care.”
Under the traditional scenario, school will run pretty much as normal, with students attending classes. But, even then it will be a new normal, as disinfecting of surfaces will take place during the day and hand washing/hygiene routines will be implemented. And, students and staff will rehearse for the possibility of another stay-at-home order closing schools. Online learning methods will be practiced, as well as social distancing protocols.
Should schools be forced to close, or not even open, then the remote learning plan will be implemented. The district has been working to increase the number of computers so that every student will have one. Harris said she could report on the status of that effort next month.
The third scenario involves a combination of traditional and remote learning. This would be employed under conditions where officials deem social distancing is of high importance. Students in grades kindergarten through eighth would either go to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays or Wednesdays and Fridays, and high school students would be taught remotely. Harris said that under the hybrid scenario, students in the same family would be on the same schedules. High school students would be able to attend school one day a week for additional support.
The committee hopes to finalize its plans my mid-June and principals would get them on June 18. At about the same time, families and staff would be surveyed for their input.