LINCOLN — The School District released its Ready for Learning Plan last week spelling out how school will look for the Aug. 24 start of the 2020-21 year amid the covid-19 pandemic.
The School Board approved the plan at its July 20 meeting.
Superintendent Mary Ann Spears emphasized to the board the plan is a “living document, for sure,” noting changes and updates come on a regular basis from the Arkansas Department of Health or the Arkansas Department of Education.
“This could change tomorrow,” Spears warned.
Lincoln has created a separate website for its Ready for Learning Plan and this site will be a “one-stop shop” for information, Spears said. In addition to the 61-page plan, the site has a document with answers to frequently asked questions and links with other information for parents.
TWO OPTIONS FOR STUDENTS
Like other schools throughout the state, Lincoln will offer two options for learning this year.
One option is described as traditional/blended where students come to school five days a week but are ready to pivot to online learning if necessary as directed by the department of health because of positive cases of the new coronavirus. In this case, students would go home with a computer for virtual classes.
In the second option, students would attend school online from home. They would be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities. Students will be issued Google Chromebooks to take home and their learning will be facilitated by Lincoln teachers.
In a video to parents about the plan, Spears said, “We respect your wishes to choose what’s best for your family.”
The district is asking parents to complete a survey to let schools know which option they are selecting for their children by July 28. After the deadline, staff will begin calling those parents that did not respond.
“We will make phone calls and talk to every single family so we know who’s coming to school and who’s taking the virtual option,” Spears said.
The numbers are important, she said, so the school can know how many students will be on site and start making plans for classrooms, lunch schedules and other on-site activities.
The school is asking parents to make a choice for nine weeks, but Spears said if someone wants to change options, the school will look at it on a case-by-case basis.
For the on-site option, Lincoln will require staff and students in kindergarten through seniors to wear face coverings when a 6-foot distance isn’t possible. This will include wearing masks when entering school and on the school bus. Students will be able to take off masks in the classrooms and outside when social distancing is available.
The school is providing one mask per student and parents can provide masks for their own children.
Blended learning instruction will include face-to-face instruction in a classroom led by a teacher with the curriculum content housed in the district’s digital platform. This will allow for a “seamless transition” if schools close and students are sent home for distance learning, the plan says.
Elementary students will use Google Classroom as the learning management system. The middle school will use Google Classroom, APEX and Summit Learning. Lincoln High will use Google Classroom, APEX, Summit Learning and Virtual Arkansas.
For online learning, students will engage in teacher-led instruction using the district’s learning management system. The school will provide students with a “guaranteed and viable curriculum through the Wolf-pack Virtual Learning,” according to the plan.
Michele Price, middle school principal, said the school will have charts that show expectations for students at home and at school. For online instruction, teachers will be flexible but students who are on Zoom lessons will have to have their cameras and microphones turned on to show they are engaged in learning.
“Some will struggle at home so we have to set out expectations,” Price said. “Kids will be accountable.”
Academic goals also include assessing and addressing unfinished learning from the spring quarter when students were sent home for online learning because of covid-19. The first three weeks of school will be used to screen students and teach essential standards that were missed due to school closings.
The plan also addresses students’ social and emotional needs and calls for “intentional” activities to support healthy relationships and interactions with students. Home to school connections will be used to support communication, family engagement and information exchange.
School nurse Emily Robbins will serve as the district’s covid-19 point of contact for Lincoln schools. The plan includes a flowchart showing how the district would address a student or staff member on campus with corona-virus symptoms or someone who has possibly been in contact with a person who tested positive for covid-19.
In each case, the district will follow guidelines issued by the department of health. The response for closing a school or the district on a short-term basis will depend on the situation, according to guidelines issued by the department of health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
All schools will have classroom and bus seating charts and these will be used to help isolate students or to contact parents if any known or possible positive covid-19 cases are reported.
To reduce the probability of virus spread, high-touch areas, including playgrounds, will be cleaned throughout the day and staff will use personal protection equipment. Teachers will have hand sanitizer and disinfectant for their rooms and hand sanitizer will be available at all main entrances.
The district’s cleaning contractor will provide deep cleaning and disinfecting of all touch areas as part of its daily responsibilities. Disinfectants will be those labeled as effective against covid-19.
Staff and students will complete a daily screening tool on any symptoms. Parents are asked to do the screening with their children each morning before they come to school. Anyone who shows up with symptoms will not be allowed to attend school until they have been cleared by a physician or the school nurse.
The district is encouraging parents to bring their children to school to help decrease bus crowding.
For those students who ride the bus, parents will be asked to screen their children for fever, sore throat, coughing or shortness of breath before placing them on a bus each morning. Students will be required to wear face masks on buses because physical distancing will not be feasible. Bus drivers and aides also will be required to wear face coverings.
Regular bus routes and schedules will continue as in the past, with each bus being disinfected after each trip.
For on-site and online learning, the school will issue each student a Google Chromebook and charger and technology team members will be available daily for chat and remote sessions.
Families who don’t have adequate internet access for online learning will be able to use campus and community open wireless access points at several locations. Hot spots also will be available in specific hardship cases.
Spears said teachers are looking forward to seeing students, whether in person or virtually.
“We take the safety of our staff and students very seriously,” Spears said. “We will do our best to serve all our kids.”
Lincoln’s Ready For Learning website: rfl.lincolncsd.com
Lynn Kutter may be reached by email at [email protected] .