The Greenville Public School District board of trustees is moving forward with the development of a reopening plan for the 2020-2021 academic school year.
Superintendent Dr. Debra Dace said at Monday’s meeting between 60% and 70% of stakeholders were in support of virtual or blended (online and in-person) instruction being implemented when GPSD schools reopen, based on surveys that were submitted last month.
“With this plan, we’re calling it enhanced traditional or hybrid, which is a face-to-face and virtual online learning opportunity for students or a virtual model which would be online so I’m recommending to the board that we implement both of these options,” Dace said.
Dace also said that upon board approval of the plan, the district will plan to send out surveys to GPSD parents to gauge which option parents would prefer.
“If parents have the tools they need, they can go totally virtual, but if they don’t, they can do combined face-to-face and at school,” she said to the board.
Dace further elaborated with the enhanced traditional model, half of the student population will attend school two days a week as there will be two cohorts.
Cohort A will attend Monday and Wednesday and Cohort B will attend Tuesday and Thursday.
Dace noted a select group of students would attend a third day during the week for remediation, enrichment, MTSS and the like.
“While they’re on campus, we would adhere to the CDC and the state health guidelines as outlined in the plan and proposal,” Dace pointed out.
In lieu of student transitioning, teachers will rotate from class to class.
In an effort to accommodate families and understanding there may be some high school students who have siblings at the elementary school level, Dace’s plan provides that families will be considered when arranging students into cohorts to ensure someone is there to help with the younger children, even if they are at different schools.
Dace highlighted the Mississippi Department of Education’s (MDE) approval of the district’s modified instructional schedule, which entails a minimum of four hours of instruction.
“With that minimum of four hours of instruction, that’s going to shorten our day and we haven’t finalized what that’s going to look like yet because that’s just the instructional part,” Dace said, noting they still have to consider lunch and other components.
As it pertains to transportation, it will entail a reduced number of students being transported and will be a main factor in the schedule, according to Dace.
Board president Doris Thompson inquired about seating during transport.
“About 14 student will ride the bus at any given time,” Dace said, “right now with the larger kids, it’s between 25 and 30.”
Both Dace and the board agreed that it would likely be very costly to execute such a plan, even with the additional funds being provided.
“Our options are try to bring kids to school or if we go totally virtual it’ll be easier on the schools but we won’t have kids participating based on the current information — number one, kids don’t have the devices or connectivity and some parents are not able to stay at home and provide the kind of support students need to be at home,” Dace said.
MDE has given districts the authority to extend fully virtual instruction to parents.
Dace clarified that if a parent makes the decision for the child to participate virtually, and the student never logs on, the parent of that child will be reported to the truancy officer.
Additional information from MDE about attendance is expected to be relayed to the district in July.
Dace said right now, school is expected to be in session for 180 days and the district’s charge is to find a way to provide equitable, quality education to its students while adhering to the CDC’s guidelines.
It was also noted the district has the latitude not to start Aug. 5, the projected start date.
The GPSD board of trustees will meet again July 16 to discuss the progress of the reopening plan.