School district settles on two options for reentry plan

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The Germantown Municipal School District announced last week that two alternatives will be available for students participating in the 2020-21 school year.
“The district has spent many hours developing the safest ways to provide a rigorous educational experience which includes face-to-face instruction, hybrid schedules, virtual options, and programs that meet the social emotional needs of our students,” wrote Superintendent Jason Manuel. “The district is also carefully monitoring the number of parents who are opting into our full-time virtual learning program.
“When we released the first survey and published its results on June 26, 96 percent of our parents indicated that they would prefer in-person learning.”
The preliminary numbers of parents opting into full-time virtual learning, show a shift in attitudes towards virtual and in-person learning.
This summer, the task force has worked to develop a virtual learning program as a key component of our hybrid in-person model. However, the increase in parents opting into full-time virtual learning will allow the district to create several specialized positions that solely focus on virtual learning.
For this reason, the district will be utilizing its stock-piled inclement weather days to delay the start date of school for students. The first day of school, for students, will be moved to Aug. 17. Teachers reported as regularly scheduled on July 29. At this time, the delayed start is the only change in our school calendar.
n There is a full-time Virtual Learning Program
For all students in grades K-12, families will need to make a semester-long commitment to their chosen path. At the end of the semester, parents will have the opportunity to reevaluate their decision and make changes.
The full-time virtual school will require dedicated staff. To ensure the appropriate staffing and success of the full-time virtual program we are asking both teachers and parents to fully commit for one semester.
The deadline for submitting your application is July 29. This deadline will provide our school principals and staff the necessary time to build course schedules and class sections.
If the district decides to delay the start of school, this deadline may be adjusted.
The GMSD Full-time Virtual Program will be staffed internally with appropriately credentialed GMSD teachers. These teachers will be providing support and/or instruction for the equivalent of 7 hours every day.
Virtual instruction is a key component in all our models of instruction for this coming year. We have been preparing professional development for all teachers since March in student motivation, best practices, new applications and programs and trouble-shooting.
If large percentages of parents choose a full-time virtual program, it will allow the district to create specialized positions for teachers who solely provide virtual learning.
We will fill these positions with internal applicants from staff who are interested in serving in this role.
In elementary school, students will have a homeroom teacher leading a virtual classroom. However, there may be additional staff that deliver instruction based on their content expertise.
Middle and high school students who opt for virtual learning will be assigned to virtual class sections. GMSD faculty will be dedicated to leading instruction in these classes which will be delivered through a combination of synchronous (live video) and asynchronous (recorded and student self-paced) instruction.
Virtual instruction will make use of GMSD adopted curriculum with additional support of standards-based blended learning products.
In all grade levels, the district has provided digital resources that allow the teachers to provide feedback, allow opportunities for student engagement (through Google Hangouts or Zoom), provide instruction through live-recording sessions, and pre-recorded lessons by content experts.
Families enrolled in the full-time virtual learning program will be provided with any materials that an in-person student would be provided. Virtual program teachers will reach out to parents and coordinate with school principals to arrange pickup times for these materials once school starts.
All students in our full-time virtual learning program will be supplied with a device. If a student currently has a device from last year, that student will keep that device.
If a student does NOT currently have a district-provided device, further instructions will be given for distribution plans.
PreK-3rd iPads will be provided
4th and 5th Chromebooks will be provided
6th – 8th iPads will be provided
9th and 10th Chromebooks will be provided
11th and 12th Macbooks will be provided
Currently, numbers of parents who are opting for the full-time virtual learning program will allow the district to provide dedicated virtual teachers for classes in K-6th grade.
In 7th- 12th grade, depending on the data, a teacher may have a virtual section in their schedule of all students who choose full time virtual and then a section in their schedule that will be in person students.
We will continue to use our current curriculum. We may use virtual learning courses in very specific cases. The teachers will continue to use the GMSD curriculum in most cases.
In elementary school, students will have a homeroom teacher leading a virtual classroom. However, there may be additional staff that deliver instruction based on their content expertise.
Middle and high school students who opt for virtual learning will be assigned to virtual class sections. GMSD faculty will be dedicated to leading instruction in these classes which will be delivered through a combination of synchronous (live video) and asynchronous (recorded and student self-paced) instruction. Virtual instruction will make use of GMSD adopted curriculum with additional support of standards-based blended learning products.
In all grade levels, the district has provided digital resources that allow the teachers to provide feedback, allow opportunities for student engagement (through Google Hangouts or Zoom), provide instruction through live-recording sessions, and pre-recorded lessons by content experts.
The virtual online program will be the equivalent of 7 hours. We will be providing combinations of virtual live lessons, online independent practice, videos, independent reading, exercise checklists or projects so that students are not participating in a dull day of screen time but are receiving the equivalent of a school day. For PreK-6th grade there will need to be an at home supervisor to help navigate technology, assist the student independent work and other challenges.
Either through visual attendance or through submission of activities and assignments. A virtual student handbook will be published this week to outline the student and parent expectations for both attendance, grading, and other procedures.
n In-Person Hybrid Learning Program
Each school will have a different solution to scheduling for students.
Elementary school students will remain with their homeroom groups as they do during a normal school year.
Our goal is to keep small group cohorts together as much as possible and for the teachers to move instead of students whenever possible.
When it is not possible to keep the students stationary or together, we will ensure distancing measures and other protocols are followed.
Data from the parent survey sent on July 15, 2020, would suggest that even with full time virtual students; there will not be enough room to allow for social distancing and students to choose full time instruction.
However, as we continue to receive new information, we will monitor and adjust accordingly.
We have asked our parents to commit to a semester-long decision whether choosing full-time virtual learning or our in-person hybrid model to meet both the needs of staffing and social distancing guidelines.
We will monitor and adjust our plans as the guidance from the Health Department, CDC, and the TN Department of Education allow us to. We understand this is a fluid situation and we will revisit our plans prior to the second semester.
District Office staff will be partnering with each school administration to monitor and support teachers in the use of Schoology, our learning management system.
If parents have concerns at anytime they should reach out to the teacher first, then schedule a teacher conference. If there are still concerns the parent should reach out the school administration. Finally, if the issue is not resolved, please reach out to the District Office.
Each grade band leadership team is developing teacher expectations for distance learning and will continue to use rigorous standards.
Our in-person teachers will be practicing a flipped-classroom model in which we are asking them to post their lessons on Schoology each day. We’ve been working with many teachers at both the high school and middle schools to develop these procedures and to create exemplars.
Many teachers are attending our PD opportunities this summer.
With the amount of students that may need to transition to temporary distance learning, for both exposure in school, exposure at home, or possible symptoms, we are preparing our teachers to be ready at any time to offer their coursework virtually.
Additionally, students who are distance learning three days a week will be completing the same work on their distance days as their peers who are in person-learning.
We believe that maintaining this flipped classroom at all grade levels will give our teachers and our parents the flexibility to toggle easily and quickly between in-person and distance learning, and advance the curriculum forward all five days.
We are ready to work with parents to keep the students who participate in our in-person option safe and healthy.
We are working with our teachers to place all of their daily lessons in Schoology, giving both students and teachers the flexibility to toggle between distance learning and in-person quickly and efficiently.
Classrooms will be cleaned and sanitized each evening. Our district custodial provider, SKB, has internal procedure manuals for cleaning that outline everything from frequency of cleaning to technique to many other details.
The district has also purchased Total Clorox 360 machines to bolster our custodial agility and performance. We are encouraging the plan to include having students sanitize their own areas during the day.
Custodial staff and plant managers will support classroom cleaning efforts, with their primary focus on public spaces (restrooms, halls, cafeterias, etc.) We are also exploring the possibility of hiring additional cleaning staff with CARES funding in order to provide additional support in this area.
This will look slightly different at each school. Parents are encouraged to review the school based plans that were sent out last week.
Many of our schools will be implementing signage, increased supervision, and doing all possible to ensure distancing during arrival, dismissal, transitions, etc. We will need our parents help reinforcing the importance of distancing at all times.
At this point, bus providers Durham is going to do everything in their power to social distance as much as possible, but it cannot be guaranteed.
Durham does not have enough buses or drivers to guarantee social distancing takes place on the bus. We are encouraging parents to utilize bus service this year only if it is absolutely needed and there are no other means to get your students to school.
We will monitor bus and stop counts every day for the first few weeks as we always do and make adjustments as needed to ridership in order to balance numbers of riders the best we can.
We are also asking parents in our survey if they plan to utilize bus service this year in an effort to proactively route buses as balanced as possible.
In instances where ridership is low enough on a bus, social distancing will most definitely be practiced.
If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID, all close contacts will receive letters via text and email through our rapid notification system requesting them to transition to distance learning.
According to the CDC, a close contact is defined as anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before the person began feeling sick until the time the patient was isolated.
This will include all students and staff who were in a classroom with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. The SCHD will also assist our team if there are any questions that arise in determining the lengths of time and/or action.
Germantown Municipal School District has also worked to develop several form letters that cover a variety of situations, such as but not limited to; a positive case that has come in contact with your child or a positive case in the building that we do not believe came into contact with your child for the aforementioned criteria.
We will protect the identity of reported cases, per HIPAA and FERPA laws, but will simultaneously operate under full transparency with parents about the occurrence of positive COVID cases.
Out of an abundance of caution, any cases in the building will be reported to all families so that they can continue vigilance in their daily health checks and immediately transition to distance learning if symptoms should occur.
A positive case in the building will also trigger enhanced cleaning of the building with special attention to the affected areas where a student or staff member may have traveled.
There will also be instances in which an entire building may transition to distance learning. In those cases, we would work with the SCHD to determine if there is community spread present at any school(s).
According to the CDC, community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.
Each health department determines community spread differently based on local conditions. We will work with our local agency.
Above all, we are asking parents to partner with us to monitor for any symptoms and to keep their children at home when sick.
Germantown Municipal School District is ready to transition any student to distance learning if their parents feel self-quarantine measures are needed. Our attendance procedure has been adjusted to make this easier on parents.
We are ready to work with parents to keep the students who participate in our in-person option safe and healthy.
We recognize that the issue of facial coverings is a very important issue to our families and our staff. Students will be required to wear facial coverings at all times during arrival, dismissal, transitions, restroom breaks, handwashing breaks, and public areas.
Students are going to be strongly encouraged to wear their facial coverings at all times in the classroom as well.
Our goal is for students and staff to wear facial coverings as frequently as possible.
We are sensitive to the fact that we have students that are at different stages developmentally.
We educate students from ages 3-22, all with differing physical needs, cognitive abilities, and social-emotional issues. We also have staff members and students with underlying medical conditions that are prohibitive to wearing a facial covering at all times.
Breakfast and lunch will be served daily. Parents should make sure that any allergies or other dietary concerns are addressed in their students’ health plan and or with school nurse/administration.
Information from the health plan will be provided to the teacher, and students will be accommodated.

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