LEWISBURG — Greenbrier County families with children in the public school system will be offered options as the school year begins. The options are outlined in a 30-page re-entry plan adopted by unanimous vote of the county’s board of education in a special meeting Friday morning.
Parents or guardians must confirm details related to their child’s re-entry to school by completing a Back to School Instructional Intent Form no later than Friday, Aug. 14. The family will indicate whether the child will attend school in accordance with modifications described in the plan or will opt for Remote Learning by Choice, which involves learning at home five days a week with instructional materials and resources provided by the school system and with educator support.
Acknowledging that state and federal guidelines may fluctuate throughout the school year, depending on the ebb and flow of the Covid-19 pandemic, the board set a benchmark of a three percent positive rate statewide to trigger certain student attendance modifications.
As long as the daily percent of Covid-19 positive cases is less than three percent, schools have adequate staffing, and personal protective equipment (PPE) is available to maintain a safe and supportive school environment, the 2020 school year for those students who opt for the modified in-person attendance model will commence on the following staggered week one schedule. All students will be dismissed 90 minutes early each day:
• Elementary grades 1 and 5 only
• Middle school grade 6 only
• High school grade 9 only
• Elementary grade 4 only
• Middle school grade 6 only
• High school grade 10 only
• Elementary grade 3 only
• Middle school grade 7 only
• High school grade 11 only
• Elementary grade 2 only
• Middle school grade 8 only
• High school grade 12 only
Beginning Monday, Sept. 14, elementary students will attend school in person five days a week with a 90-minute early out each day to allow for disinfecting and duties associated with remote learning.
Kindergarten begins on Sept. 15 and pre-K on Sept. 17 (four days a week).
From Monday, Sept. 14, through Thursday, Oct. 8, middle and high school students (grades 6-12) who opt for modified in-person instruction will be organized into two groups, each of which will attend school in person two days a week, with a 90-minute early out each day. Students will engage in remote learning instruction from home three days a week. Group A will be at school Mondays and Thursdays, and Group B will be at school Tuesdays and Fridays. Students in the same household will be on the same schedule as much as possible.
Continuation of that 50 percent model for secondary students will be reassessed on Oct. 8, the end of the first midterm.
Those students in PK-12 who opt for 100 percent remote learning will be provided with instructional materials and support. Remote learning will involve a higher level of accountability for assignments and grades than some may have experienced last spring, the re-entry plan cautions.
“GCS recognizes that in-person instruction may not be an option for students with elevated health risks or those who have family members with elevated health risks,” the plan indicates. “Additionally, we understand that some families may not feel comfortable having their children attend school in person. This option is provided in an effort to meet the unique circumstances of GCS families.”
The document assures that students who choose an online option will have continued access to extracurricular and co-curricular activities.
If the daily percentage of positive rate for West Virginia goes to three percent or greater for three consecutive days, unless the local health department confirms that there is no increase locally, GCS will implement Plan B, which limits occupancy at all school buildings to 50 percent.
Attendance schedules will be shared with families in such an instance.
If the prevalence of Covid-19 increases to the point that the governor suspends in-person instruction, either on a statewide or regional basis, remote learning for all Greenbrier County students will be implemented. Details of that implementation are provided in the re-entry plan, which can be accessed on the school system’s website and via social media platforms.
The re-entry plan also includes information about attendance, grading, nutrition, parking lot wi-fi access, bus safety, hygiene protocols and precautions in school buildings and classrooms, face mask requirements, physical distancing, cafeteria protocols and laboratory protocols.
The school system will receive nearly $1.3 million in federal funding through the CARES Act. This funding will be used to provide PPE to staff and students and to purchase additional cleaning supplies and sanitary supplies (such as hand sanitizing stations). It will also be used to enhance remote learning via the purchase of textbooks, devices and wi-fi access points in the community.
In developing the re-entry plan, GCS used data and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, state and local health departments, the West Virginia Department of Education, the West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In a message included in the re-entry plan, Greenbrier Superintendent of Schools Jeff Bryant states, “The well-being of Greenbrier County students and families and sincere dedication to providing the best education possible to our students have fueled the development of this plan for reopening our school system. As we prepare for the 2020-2021 school year, we do so with the knowledge that flexibility is the name of the game.”
He acknowledges, “The school experience will be different for our students and families as we reopen our buildings for learning under new protocols.”
Also in the document, the board of education appeals to families to consider restricting out-of-state travel during the two weeks before the start of school. The board also reminds parents to keep their children home if they are sick or showing symptoms related to Covid-19.
The Greenbrier County Schools system serves between 4,800 and 4,900 students.
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