Summit School District zeros in on 3 models for 2020-21 restart
DILLON — A month-and-a-half away from a potential — and perhaps partial — return to school buildings, the Summit School District continues to refine many details about how to conduct education next school year.
At Thursday’s district board of education meeting, outgoing superintendent Kerry Buhler shared with the school board the most recent developments for the district’s 2020-21 restart as she and other district officials work hand-in-hand weekly with county public health officials.
Buhler said as of Thursday, the district is at its fourth draft of its restart guide. The document and plan in the form of a draft will continue to be updated throughout the summer and the district was getting ready to share with families, staff and the community at large.
Buhler said rather than district administrative team members taking the traditional six-week hiatus over summer, this year staff such as principals and assistant principals are being asked to check in with communication weekly.
Until July 1 — when incoming superintendent Marion Smith Jr. begins his tenure — Buhler and district chief operating officer Drew Adkins are leading the charge of putting together the restart plan.
In terms of a timeline, Buhler said the district is looking at July 27 through Aug. 7 as the time period when the district hopes to finalize its communication of its “fluid” plans for the fall, as district and county public health officials are forecasting several potential scenarios that are adaptable to changing novel coronavirus dynamics.
“I think that’s something we are all really struggling with right now,” Buhler said Thursday. “You need a lot of plans. So how many plans do we need? We need to be able to respond to pretty much anything that is the case when school starts.”
“Everything is about 10 times more complicated than it normally would be,” Buhler added.
Buhler commended district spokeswoman and communications professional Mikki Grebetz for her continuing work on the restart gude, including adding a family resource button that through the summer will allow for families to submit feedback and questions. Anticipating more community feedback, Buhler said the district is heading into the summer looking at three potential models pending public health developments. The first model is, in essence, the same the district undertook this spring, with exclusively remote education, though she said the district is dialing in more robust remote learning directives.
The second model, dubbed “blended learning,” “is everything in between.” In terms of what that could mean for in-person instruction at the school, Buhler said per current county public-health rules that would limit groups to 10 at a max, though the document stipulated that could increase substantially.
“And then figuring out how to make sure that those kids that perhaps need either intervention — or students that are on (individualized education plans), that perhaps one of the days of the week is a day of additional learning for everyone,” Buhler said. “Maybe some more in-person learning for some of those kids at risk.”
The district’s current draft of the restart guide says the most restrictive end of the blended model “represents small, prioritized groups of students, who may not have equitable access to education through online learning only, having the opportunity to receive direct in-person instruction,” while, “online learning could remain in place for other students.”
Model three, Buhler said, would be when there are no longer health-related restrictions affecting the community and all district students returning to learn together in-person.
Go to this link to watch the full board of education meeting from Thursday, Password to watch is: 0G^EG+zf
As for next steps this summer, Buhler said the district is looking into how its Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds can be used to finance better online platforms or more traditional textbook-based educational resources. The district will also continue to take feedback on asynchronous learning models — which include students learning in a flexible manner via email, recorded videos, Flipgrid videos, screencasts and blog posts — versus synchronous learning, such as scheduled video conferences, live chats, live streams and in-person instruction with teachers.
Buhler added if and when students return to school buildings, gathering sizes would have 6 feet of distance between students and fever detection would be in place. She said lingering questions to be addressed this summer include bus transportation and food services, as the outgoing superintendent said when she’d run into high school students working at City Market, the primary questions they had were specific to those two elements of school.
“(Transportation) is probably the most complicated of anything,” Buhler said, adding as of now it appears a maximum of 13 students would be permitted on buses.
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As the Summit School District prepares for all online instruction, adults are focusing their attention on the health and well-being of the students.