Summit School District makes contingency plan for remote learning
Staff shortages related to the virus could send school online temporarily
Though Summit School District is planning to stay the course by returning to in-person learning after the holiday break, the district is also making contingency plans in case remote learning becomes necessary in the coming days or weeks.
On Dec. 30, the district announced a one-day delay in the return to school after the break due to staffing issues related to the virus, as well as concerns about delayed return travel after the holidays.
Middle and high school students returned to school Tuesday, Jan. 4. And elementary students are still set to return Wednesday, Jan. 5, though an email from the district cautioned that could change because of staffing shortages.
“If we don’t have enough staff to safely hold school in a particular building, we will temporarily transition to online learning instruction in that building only,” an email from the district stated.
The district’s guideline for moving to remote learning is if 15% to 20% of a school’s certificated staff, such as teachers, is absent. According to the email, the rate of staff illness is high.
District spokesperson Andrea Ridder said last week that school leadership met with Summit County Public Health Department officials for about four hours Thursday, Dec. 30, and health officials didn’t recommend taking kids out of school because of the mitigation protocols the district has in place to reduce transmission.
“They are not calling for students to be out of school at this point and really saying that because we are masking, because we’re screening testing, because we’re doing all the things that we’re doing, it really is mitigating a lot of spread,” Ridder said. “Because of what we’re doing, we’re keeping our people safe.”
But staffing shortages could force the district’s hand.
Students in all grade levels will begin taking home their assigned devices each day in case a school does move to online learning, and students should plan to work independently on assignments during their first day at home, while teachers and staff focus on lesson planning for remote learning.
In addition to providing each student a device, such as a laptop or tablet, the district will also provide Wi-Fi access for students who don’t have internet at home. Parents who need more information on hot spot locations should contact their child’s school.
In an attempt to keep students and staff healthy while in school, the district is recommending N95 or KN95 masks instead of cloth masks. Regardless of the mask type, facial coverings are required to be worn in all school buildings, and the recommended mask types are up to 60% more effective than cloth masks, the email stated.
The district is also encouraging all staff and students to participate in its testing program, which it hopes will help mitigate the spread of the virus within the schools.
The state-run weekly testing program offers incentives, including a $25 gift card the first time a student gets tested and a $10 gift card for each subsequent test. Information about how to sign up can be found at SummitK12.org/departments/health-services/covid19.
The district also reminded parents to keep their children home from school if they are experiencing any cold or flu-like symptoms.
Ridder reiterated last week that a school closure would only take place if absolutely necessary.
“We want children to be in school,” Ridder said. “We know that’s what’s best for them. … It’s better for them to all be together, and we’re seeing that now.”
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