FLEMING ISLAND – Although the school board outlined the district’s plan for reopening schools next month, some decisions still need to be made and nothing is final.
The Clay County School Board met Tuesday, July 14, to hold a workshop about how best way to begin the 2020-21 school year through the lens of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Parents and their children will have four different options from which to choose how they’ll start the school year. The school board will, meanwhile, have some options to choose from in determining what learning during the pandemic will be like in terms of safety, masks and temperature checks.
“There’s no perfect scenario,” Superintendent David Broskie said. “Honestly, if I can come forward, that’s just not going to happen but we’re striving to maximize health and safety.”
The four options for the Clay County School District are as follows: zoned brick and mortar schools for all grade levels, Clay Virtual Academy for grades kindergarten through 12th, OneClay Online through zoned schools for grades kindergarten through 6th and blended learning for grades seventh through 12th.
The zoned brick and mortar model represent a return to the school campus where students will interact directly with their teachers and classmates.
“Our goal is to create an environment that provides an opportunity for students to return to the traditional school experience, while providing safeguards to protect the health and safety of students and staff,” Broskie read from his presentation.
Each individual school will have its own safety plan based on the school’s specific features. Classrooms will see increased desk spacing, assigned seating, the removal of furniture like couches, updated classroom procedures and easily-reached hand sanitizer.
Clay Virtual Academy is the second option for CCSD students. They have to make a semester commitment and all work will be completed from home for the most part. There has been a total of 2,116 applicants for CVA this year already. It’s important to note that CVA is not the same as the OneClay Online model.
“This model is designed for families who like to maintain their connection to their enrolled school, but do not yet feel comfortable sending their students back to school in August,” Broskie’s presentation read. “Elementary students will attend their currently enrolled school remotely and teaching will mirror the pace and rigor of brick and mortar.”
The school district encouraged students who go with this option to make a semester commitment.
The final option, blended learning, allows secondary students to choose from both brick and mortar classes and CVA classes. Students will attend school for some classes and learn online for others if they choose to go with this option. Transportation will be provided but only at the standard school start and end times so if a student needs to leave at an irregular time to attend a CVA class, they’ll need their own transportation.
The school board discussed face masks, temperature checks and an updated school calendar during the July 14 workshop as well. The board came to the consensus that for grades kindergarten through second, face masks should be strongly recommended but not mandated. They also came to the consensus that masks should be mandated for all grade levels above second. Board member Ashley Gilhousen said she’s not in favor of any kind of mask mandate, citing that a decision like that should be up to each parent.
As far as temperature checks go, the board agreed that according to health department guidelines, temperature screenings upon school entry is not practical. The board agreed that mandatory temperature checks should not be implemented, although board member Janice Kerekes said she believes screenings should take place if it means safety for students and staff.
One thing the board agreed on across the board was that the school year should be pushed back by two weeks. This would see it begin on August 24 instead of Aug. 11. This gives the board more time to mull over its proceedings and give parents time to determine which of the four options before them best fits their needs.
While consensus was made during the workshop, no official actions were taken. The school board will take official action on things like school masks and temperature checks in the coming weeks.