NEW VIENNA — Intended as a transitional step, East Clinton schools will operate for the first three weeks in a hybrid model, where students receive both in-person and online instruction.
At least that’s the approved plan as local virus conditions stand now, noted East Clinton Superintendent Eric Magee on Monday when the Board of Education voted in favor of his recommendations for the startup of the 2020-2021 academic year.
Under the format, half of the students attend school in person on Mondays and Tuesdays, the other half attend in person on Thursdays and Fridays, and on Wednesdays all students have remote learning.
There are several benefits to beginning the school year with this hybrid (called the yellow) model, said the superintendent prior to the board’s unanimous vote.
A big benefit is that, by having only half of the student body in a school building, there is enough classroom space to enable six feet of social distancing.
A start in yellow also allows students to be able to transition back into a normal setting, while allowing for a more individual focus during the two days a week they’re in the building, Magee said. It will provide time for teachers to train and teach new safety procedures and protocols for students.
A start in yellow will allow cleaning crews to establish any needed area for improvement, with Wednesdays for deep cleaning when all students are out, said the superintendent. A start in yellow will allow for monitoring of COVID-19 numbers after many schools have begun some sort of in-person start.
The adopted plan calls for all East Clinton students after Labor Day to then attend school each weekday except Wednesdays, which will remain as a remote learning day through the end of the first quarter Oct. 9. This will allow the mid-week deep cleanings to continue through the first quarter.
And those first-quarter remote Wednesdays will keep making use of online technologies, so that if the need arises to move back into yellow or to have entirely remote learning as in the past spring, it should be a very smooth transition for both teachers and students, according to Magee.
Apart from this first-quarter schedule, East Clinton will be checking on the temperature of every student as they arrive at school either by bus or family vehicle. Even so, the district will ask parents to take their children’s temperature before they get on the bus and to monitor their children for symptoms.
Because the space on a school bus does not offer students a chance to be six feet apart, masks on the bus will be required among East Clinton students unless a student meets one of the exceptions (such as medical, religious) listed in the state guidelines.
Other than on school buses and for school employees (the latter is required by the state), EC will not require face coverings. But face coverings will be highly recommended everywhere at East Clinton schools.
Magee said part of what district educators want to teach during those first few weeks includes the reason why students need to wear a face covering.
“You’re protecting the people around you, protecting the people standing in front of the classroom. It’s not about you; it’s about the people around you,” Magee said during the board’s work session.
Held in the New Vienna Elementary School cafeteria, the work session was attended by nearly 30 teachers, administrators and parents, most of whom wore masks.
In addition to the in-person option described above, East Clinton like other districts in the area is offering an entirely online instructional option for those families uncomfortable with sending a child to the school building during the pandemic. With this virtual learning option, the student and family must commit to the entire first semester.
East Clinton’s intent is, as much as possible, to be in the green model — which is to say, to have all students (other than those doing the virtual option) to be in school for in-person learning.
“We want them here. That’s where they’re going to learn the best,” said Magee.
On Monday, Aug. 10 EC teachers will start a full week of professional development, providing them time to fully understand public health expectations and develop individual classroom setup, along with online training, said Magee.
East Clinton Special Education Director Steven Sodini was at the work session. He asked for flexibility when it comes to students with disabilities during the pandemic. These students struggle a lot when their education occurs at home rather than at school, he said.
“What ways can we make sure they’re supported and cared for and taken very, very seriously?” asked Sodini.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.