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August 11, 2020

6/26/2020 8:29:00 AM
School Board Reopens
Kylan Higgs


The JC School Board voted on Thursday, June 25 and the school reopen plan has been approved. Below is an introduction from Superintendent Teresa Brown with a brief summary of the Jennings County School Corporation's "Panther's Prepare & Care" plan to reopen schools for the 2020-21 academic year.

Links to the full parent guide book for elementary, middle and high schools can be found here" https://www.jcsc.org/news#upcomingplans

Introduction
The Jennings County School Corporation is committed to providing our students with the best possible learning environment. As we re-imagine the 2020-21 school year, we are focused on returning to school safely, while providing our students with the best possible education. We believe it is important for our families to have options to address their concerns. We greatly value community input and have used it to help us design a reentry plan that addresses family needs.

We recently conducted a survey of our parents and received responses for 3,047 students. We have really strong data. We had 58.3% of our families (1,777 students) indicate a traditional model for school is preferred. We had 33.7% prefer the hybrid model (1,028 students) and 7.9% indicate an online only option is preferred (242 students). In addition, we had 774 comments from people who vary greatly on the continuum in what they each would like to see us do this fall. Clearly, there are many strong opinions about what is best for students.
We have been working through many details to ensure we are ready to open school this fall. We had more than 50 people working on reopening plans as we made many decisions. In addition to following guidance from the CDC, Indiana Department of Education, our insurance company and our state and local Health Department, we considered the many concerns raised by our community. Our plan is based on the current guidance provided by the Health Department. If the guidance becomes less restrictive from health care officials, we will adjust our plans accordingly. For the 20-21 school year, after much consideration, we will be offering our families two choices: traditional and online.


The traditional model will mean that students return to school five days a week beginning on August 6. Our traditional schools will look different. To meet the guidelines recommended by our health care officials, we will be re-imagining school to provide for extended distancing, smaller classes, larger spaces used for instruction, additional lunch periods with students seated with appropriate spacing and robust cleaning and sanitizing. Classrooms and hallways will be stocked with hand sanitizers, wipes, kleenexes etc. and regular schedules will include hand washing and common surfaces cleaning protocols. All products will be safe for students.

Additionally, we will be requiring students to wear masks when they are not able to socially distance: on the bus, during arrival and dismissal, and when in hallways. During classroom instruction, when students are able to socially distance, they will not be required to wear masks.

Wearing a mask in common areas demonstrates our commitment to helping protect one another and limiting the spread of COVID-19. We will share with our students that, "I wear my mask for you and you wear your mask for me." It is what is recommended by health care officials and we believe it is our responsibility to provide our students with the safest environment possible.

Online Learning Model
For our families who want to limit their students from contact with others, due to medical concerns of students or family members, we are providing an online learning option. Our remote learning option is being redeveloped and will look very different from the spring of 2020. Our expectations will be much higher and requirements will be much more rigorous. Students will be held accountable for the completion of work. Our online learning environment will look much more similar to a traditional classroom. Elementary students will be required to participate in online learning activities approximately 5 hours a day and secondary students will be required to participate in online learning activities for approximately 6 hours a day. These are requirements from the Indiana Department of Education. Our teachers have been participating in extensive professional development to assist with developing our ability to provide exceptional online learning experiences. Grading will also mirror traditional classroom grading, with similar expectations and policies. Students will be expected to actively participate in learning every day of instruction and connect with their teachers as expected.

For students with connectivity or internet access issues, we will work with families to close this gap and identify solutions. It is important for families to communicate this need with us during the registration process.

During registration, families will have the ability to select which option they choose for their students. Both options will be different from past experiences in JCSC. Families will need to understand the requirements and select the option that best fits the needs of their family.

Transportation
We will continue to provide transportation for our students who need that service. Because students are not able to socially distance from one another on buses, we will require students, who ride a bus, to wear a mask. For students who do not wish to wear a mask on the bus, parents can choose to provide transportation. It is important for us to continue to model for our students that we take care of each other by wearing our masks, when we are not able to distance ourselves. We are all in this together. Buses will be cleaned and sanitized between routes.

In Closing
I can assure you our goal is to plan for quality teaching and learning for students in a safe environment that meets the needs of our community. We also understand our plan needs to be fluid and adaptable, since we do not know what will happen during the upcoming school year.

One important reminder for everyone for the upcoming school year, if a student or adult is sick, PLEASE stay home. We will be looking at attendance and incentives for attendance much differently this year. It is important for anyone with COVID symptoms to stay home until you are fever free for 72 hours, without any fever reducer, and be screened for COVID. Anyone with a COVID positive test should quarantine for 10 days and be fever free for 72 hours before returning to school. For students living in a home with a positive COVID test, they also need to quarantine for 14 days. It is critical that any positive or suspected cases of COVID are reported to your child's school. We want to make sure that we use common sense when addressing this upcoming school year and the challenges of the Pandemic.

We are preparing for many scenarios and will be ready to adjust as needed. We have an extensive plan on how to return to school safely, which will guide our staff as we make plans and prepare for students. We will be sharing with our families the logistics of 2020-21 as we move forward. As always, parents or guardians with questions about our return to school plans, should contact their child's principal.

While navigating a Pandemic is new for all of us, we have been doing our best to take care of our students. As we work through our plans for fall, we will continue to keep our students at the center of our decision making and will keep our community informed as we move forward. We appreciate your support and look forward to working with you as we return to school on August 6, 2020.

Sincerely,

Teresa A. Brown
Superintendent





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