South Pike officials adopted a hybrid reopening plan for the fall semester, with different schedules for elementary students versus junior high and high school students. School days will be limited to six hours.
Superintendent Donna Scott recommended to the board Thursday morning that students at Osyka and Eva Gordon elementary schools attend on a traditional, five-day-a-week schedule, with students staying in the same classroom throughout the day.
Junior high and high school students will be split into two groups to attend on A and B days, with one group on campus Mondays and Wednesdays, and the other group present on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Fridays, freshmen and sophomores will be on campus, while juniors and seniors will take instruction online.
Special education students at all levels will attend school every day.
Parents may opt for online instruction only, but must demonstrate they have adequate internet service for the program and must commit to it for the entire semester.
Some devices for accessing the internet will be available for distribution, Scott said, and more are expected to be available later in the year, but most parents will need to show they have an adequate electronic device available for use, as well.
School days will begin at 7:30 a.m. and end at 1:30 p.m. for all students. Teacher preparation periods will be held after students have left for the day.
Parents are asked to check their children’s temperatures before bringing them to school, to keep children with temperatures of 99.5 degrees or higher at home and to provide masks for students to wear on buses and on campus.
Students at Eva Gordon will be further separated by partitions in their classrooms.
To prevent possible transmission of the virus at water fountains, Scott said the district is encouraging parents to send bottled water for their children, and a limited supply of small paper cups will be available for students to use rather than drinking directly from the fountain.
To give teachers more training on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Aug. 6-7 will become professional development days, and students will not return to school until Aug. 10.
The fall break on Oct. 12-13 has been eliminated, and the last day for teachers is now May 24, two days earlier than originally scheduled.
The plan now in place is effective through the end of the first semester, and scheduling and precaution needs will be re-evaluated for the spring semester.
“At the end of the semester, we may all be at home, or we may all be back in school,” Scott said. “We will put in place what we need to be ready.”
As of now, Scott said the state has said state testing windows and graduation requirements will not be relaxed this year.
Transportation Director Warren Banks said bus drivers will have professional development on sanitizing buses each day and seating students at a social distance. Drivers will be provided masks and gloves, and hand sanitizer stations will likely be added to buses.
Banks said many parents have reacted positively to the district’s efforts to prepare for a safe school start.
“Many parents seem encouraged by our efforts,” Banks said. “They’re buying masks and making masks and bringing them to show us. They seem overly eager to comply with our efforts.”
Scott echoed North Pike Superintendent Dennis Penton, saying students who go out to catch a bus won’t be left standing by the road if they seem sick.
“We wont refuse them, in case there’s nobody home,” Scott said.
While the scheduling plans for South Pike are more complex than many other districts in the area, “we looked at our financials and the needs of our students, and we believe this the best plan,” she said.