For the first time in memory, Warren County educators are grappling with what schools will look like when classes are scheduled to resume after summer vacation.
Four scenarios have been outlined for the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, which is scheduled to begin Wednesday, Aug. 12. They range from students going to school and attending classes in as close to normal capacity as possible, to students learning completely online, which is how the last school year ended.
“We have been meeting for the last two weeks discussing these scenarios and how to best serve the students in Warren County,” said Director of Schools Grant Swallows. “I am so encouraged to see how dedicated our staff is to helping students learn and succeed. Our plan is to present these scenarios to the School Board in the June meeting and make recommendations accordingly.”
The four options are as follows:
No. 1 All students attend school in physical buildings.
“This scenario is what we want to happen because it is as close to a regular school day as possible,” said Swallows. “Of course, in this scenario we will be following strict social distancing guidelines in order to keep our students and staff safe. There will be challenges related to these safety protocols but we will be working diligently with our staff to be prepared and ready.”
No. 2 Some students are in the physical building while some are learning remotely.
“We are calling this scenario a phase-in plan where some students would attend school on one day while others learn remotely from home. The next day those groups would switch,” said Swallows. “This scenario would allow for distancing and safety protocols to be more manageable while students would still be learning every day.”
No. 3 All students learn remotely through virtual coursework.
“We hope we are able to avoid this scenario but are preparing for it nonetheless,” said Swallows. “This option would be necessary if the number of COVID-19 cases begin to rise so we must be prepared to educate students in the virtual environment. Missing the opportunity for learning cannot happen.”
No. 4 An intermittent school year where students attend school until sickness forces a closure.
“This scenario is what we encountered last year and we are preparing for supporting students in the virtual environment if/ when school might close,” said Swallows.
Underscoring all of these scenarios, Swallows says, is the fact the school system is looking to expand its Virtual Instruction Program (VIP) to serve students who are considered to be at-risk because of health concerns.
“We are continuing to monitor the health situation in our county and region in order to make the best decision possible,” said Swallows. “After the June meeting, we would attempt to begin communicating with our employees, students and families in order to best prepare for August.”
The next School Board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, June 25.