Salem students could begin school year attending school one day a week

Salem City School announced its plan for the 2020-2021 school year

Local school divisions consider plans for fall reopening
Local school divisions consider plans for fall reopening

SALEM, Va. – The start to the school year in Salem will be far from normal.

While the first day for students will be Aug. 31, far from all the city’s students will be in the classroom that day.

In light of Gov. Northam’s announcement Tuesday afternoon regarding schools, Salem City Schools is planning for a hybrid schedule of both in-school and remote learning for its students.

“We’re educators, so we’re very adept at doing teaching and learning decision, this is not a teaching and learning decision. This is a public health decision, so we are deferring completely to the Virginia Department of Health and CDC regulations. It just puts some limits on how many students we can serve next year," superintendent Alan Seibert said.

The school division announced four different options for the upcoming school year, that can be scaled up when limits on the number of students allowed are eased, and eventually removed.

“We’d rather do it right than do it fast. So, our plan will be to have a work session with the board in July to lay out some options and hopefully have that crystallized by the end of the month," Seibert said.

Remote Learning Option

  • Any family with significant concerns about returning their students to school during Phase 3 will have the option to participate in 100% remote instruction

25% Student Capacity Option

  • This option is based on the transportation and classroom capacity limitations necessary to comply with current physical distancing requirements.
  • Students will be divided into four groups, each physically attending school one day per week
  • Wednesdays will be used to provide targeted support for students as needed, to schedule individual and group synchronous online learning sessions, and to facilitate communication with students and families
  • To facilitate online learning when students are not in school, the school division is currently working to integrate Virtual Virginia’s online content in grades K-12 using the Canvas Course Management System.
  • The primary means of instruction and learning will be conducted remotely using Canvas and the division’s online learning resources
  • Cleaning and sanitization will be maintained throughout the day, with “deep cleaning” on Wednesday and Friday evenings
  • Students in different schools/grade-levels from the same household will be scheduled on the same “Day Schedule”

50% Student Capacity Option

  • When guidance from the Virginia Department of Health allows for increased capacity, students will transition to attending school two days per week by merging A Days and B Days and C Days and D Days.
  • Wednesdays will continue to be used as they were in the previous option.

100% Student Capacity Option

  • When guidance from the Virginia Department of Health allows for all students to return to school, students may return to a more traditional school day, while retaining start time and bus route changes, enhanced custodial services, and remote learning for interested families.

Transportation and Start Times

  • Because of social distancing requirements, the school division has also altered the start and end times for schools in this upcoming school year
    • Elementary students will be transported first, and the elementary school day will start at about 7:40 a.m. and end at 2:15 p.m.
    • Middle school students will be transported second, and the middle school day will start at about 8:10 a.m. and end at 3:05 p.m.
    • High school students will be transported last, and the high school day will start at approximately 8:30 a.m. and end at 3:25 p.m.

The school division will release more specific information about start times, bus schedules and parent drop-off times as they are finalized.

“We understand that the scenarios outlined above represent significant changes for staff, students, families, and our community. Know that we will do everything in our power to ensure the best possible work and learning environment under these circumstances and that we will be in a position to transition students back to school on a more regular basis as guidelines permit. At this point, you likely have several questions about the specifics of these plans. We will provide more information as the details are finalized. Please continue to be patient, flexible, and attentive to future correspondence from the school division and your school,” said Superintendent Alan Seibert.

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