When the coronavirus pandemic turned the whole world upside down in late March of this year, schools were shut down all across the country, including in Wayne County, in an effort to protect children from the COVID-19 virus. Although the number of cases is on the rise in Wayne County, we have all learned ways to protect ourselves, such as diligent hand-washing and practical ways of social distancing. Wayne County Director of Schools Marlon Davis announced last week that after much consideration, Wayne County schools will reopen on Wednesday, August 12th. Below is Superintendent Davis’ complete statement:
“In early March of this year, we were faced with recent and elevated attention to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in national and local media. Subsequently, Governor Lee released a statement “encouraging all school districts to close through the end of the school year in order to protect the health and wellbeing of Tennessee’s students, teachers, and entire communities across the state”. At the present time, Governor Lee’s order does not prohibit school systems from opening school on time. We have been meeting throughout the summer to create a plan to reopen the school year 2020-21. This pandemic has caused many challenges for school districts within our state and country. I think all would agree that there is no better way for a child to learn than for students to be in school with their teacher. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a Planning Considerations for School Re-Entry document, and this report included the statement “the AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school”. Our recent district survey shows that the majority of responses we received preferred a traditional schedule to open schools. I want to assure everyone that we will always consider the safety and wellbeing of our students and teachers as we make these decisions. The following information is meant to assist you with educational decisions related to your child.
Reopen Plan – Our plan is to reopen schools as scheduled on Wednesday, August 12. We will have a modified schedule for the first 3 days of school (August 12-14) in order to allow for students to reconnect, meet with their teachers, and discuss the new safety measures that will be in place. There will be many questions that students may have for their successful return to school. We will start school on the following schedule:
•Wednesday, August 12–only grades 2, 6, 9, and 12 will attend
•Thursday, August 13–only grades 3, 5, 7, and 11 will attend
•Friday, August 14–only grades 1, 4, 8, and 10 will attend
•Monday, August 17–All students in grades 1-12 will attend
(The PreK and Kindergarten students will be on a staggered schedule to be provided later)
Traditional Schedule Option – Students will attend school on a normal school schedule with modification that will be included in the Wayne County “Framework and Protocols for Re-Opening School”. This plan will be posted on our website at www.waynetn.net.
•Due to the extended closure, we will be assessing students to devise individual strategies for Academic Recovery.
•For grades K-4, the academic focus will be on math and reading for the first nine weeks, but we will also include science and social studies in the curriculum. We want to focus on closing the academic gaps that have occurred during the closure.
•Grades 5-12 will do the same, but will incorporate the full curriculum at a faster pace in order to help students regain their grade level expectations.
•All teachers will practice using technology as an educational delivery method with their students in order to prepare for future closures if necessary.
•Students will have PE class and related arts classes daily, but with safety measures in place.
•Students will use the cafeteria for breakfast and lunch. We may schedule additional lunch blocks in order to lower the number of students utilizing the cafeteria.
•Each teacher will have a “no touch” thermometer in their classroom. These will be utilized as described in our “Framework and Protocols for Re-Opening” document.
•Masks will be recommended but not required.
•Teachers will do their best to have all of their students facing the same direction in class to minimize face to face contact.
•Transportation services will continue as normal. All buses will be disinfected after each route. Parents will be able to make the decision if they would like their child to ride the bus, bring their child to school, or have their child participate in the distance learning option.
Special Education Services: It is our plan to provide services at the beginning of the school year as dictated by the child’s IEP. The level of special education support will be determined by the IEP team.
Health & Safety: We will be taking extra precautions to keep our buildings safe and clean. We will work with all students on maintaining good health practices, create social distancing as much as possible in the school setting, and provide multiple opportunities to wash hands throughout the day. We ask that all parents check their child’s temperature each morning prior to leaving for school. If your child’s temperature is 99.9 degrees or higher, then please keep them at home and notify the school concerning your child’s absence.
Registration: Returning students may register on-line by visiting your school’s website. Students may also register at the school on August 6, or other times announced by the administration of the school. If you choose to register on-line, you will not need to come to the school to register.
•All new students will need to come to the school for registration day on August 6.
•School supply lists will be provided by your child’s school.
Distance Learning Option – Due to the current conditions surrounding the pandemic, we are offering a distance learning option for the 2020-21 school year. We understand that we may have some parents that might have reservations about sending their child to school. That being the case, we will be offering a distance learning option. This option is available for all Wayne County residents and there will be no fees associated with this program. Parents who have elected in the past to home school their children are welcome to participate in this new option, but they will need to register their child in our school system in order to do so. All parents will need to register their child by filling out the registration forms located at their school website or fill out the paper forms provided on the advertised day of registration for each school. The registration forms will include a box to check “Distance Learning Option”. This must be completed by July 24 so we will be able to plan for the number of students opting for this manner of educational delivery. Please be aware that the distance learning option registration is for a minimum of one full semester. Parents will have the opportunity to make a change for their child to attend school if they wish during the semester break. It is recommended that any student planning to go with the distance learning option to provide their own device for any virtual instruction. A cell phone will not be a suitable device to complete school assignments. We will be able to provide chromebooks to students as they are available and may include a deposit for the safe and undamaged return of the equipment.
Students will not attend school on this option and all school work will be done offsite. For parents that do not have a device now, students will be given packets of work and possibly issued a school owned device that will include the instruction materials needed. One of our certified teachers will be responsible for the delivery of instruction and support for the student.
•Registration is available by contacting your school via the school website or by attending a scheduled registration event. It is recommended that this be done on-line, but school staff will assist you if you prefer to fill out the paper forms.
•Information will be provided about the distance learning option that will assist you in your decision. Your contact will be the administration in each school building or call the Wayne County Board of Education.
•Students will have access to the Tennessee State Standards, access to high quality instructional materials, and weekly access to Wayne County Schools certified teachers. A child’s attendance (participation) and grades will be recorded. Instructional delivery will be either by digital means, paper documents, and phone contact. Students will be expected to have a 6 ½ hour instructional day just like students that attend school. Interaction with a teacher will be limited since one to one contact is necessary. This will require a more concentrated approach on the parent’s part to help track daily attendance, monitor their child’s assignments, and communicate with their child’s teacher. The partnership between parents and the school system will be key to ensure your child’s academic success.
Extra-Curricular Activities – Regardless if you attend school or choose the distance learning option, all students will be eligible for all extra-curricular activities. Students would be eligible if they meet all attendance and academic requirements. This would include all elementary, middle, and high school students.
Food Service – Food service will not be provided to students participating in the distance learning plan since they will not physically be in the building.
Transportation – Transportation will not be needed since the student will not be attending. If a student needs technical or academic support from the teacher, this will be done by phone or virtual means.
It has been a challenging time for everyone over the last four months. Please know that the best interest of all children drives every decision that is made by the administration. We truly understand the hardship it causes on so many parents when our schools are closed and we are always mindful of that in our decision making. Please keep in mind that this plan is subject to change as circumstances change and we will continue to seek guidance from the state and local health officials. No plan is perfect, and you can expect changes as we receive more current information related to this pandemic. Now more than ever, school systems and parents will need to work together, support one another, and cooperate in order to create the best opportunities of success for our children. Please feel free to contact me at the Board of Education at 931-722-3548.”