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School districts release learning plans for academic year

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Soon school will be back in session, but whether a student will return to in-person classes or learn from virtual lessons in their own homes will vary depending on each family’s choice.

On July 20, schools and school districts across the St. Charles County area released their learning plans for the upcoming 2020-2021 academic year.

These plans included multiple learning formats for students, as well as other safety provisions, with the ultimate goal of continuing school amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Francis Howell School District

The Francis Howell School District was one of many districts to close its doors early to students and staff members at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year.

To devise a plan for the upcoming school year that would allow student access to the amenities and education of school while still prioritizing safety precautions with the ongoing state of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was even a 90-day planning period where a district task force sought feedback from students and their families.

On July 20, this district unveiled its 2020 Return to School Plan.

Under this plan, families will be able to choose one of two learning plans.

Option 1: In-person classroom learning with added precautions and safety protocols. This option will have a full-time or hybrid format depending on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the full-time model, in-person instruction will take place five days a week at the student’s school building. Although this option allows for regular classroom instruction, students and staff members will be required to follow a list of safety precautions, such as mask-wearing and social distancing in classrooms and common spaces.

The hybrid schedule will feature an A/B alternating schedule where only half of enrolled students are in physical classrooms at any given time. Students will attend in-person learning at their school building two or three days a week and engage in virtual learning remotely the other days.

The same safety and social distancing precautions from the full-time model will be in place.

It should be noted that, according to the district’s official website, the district may elect to move from full-time classroom learning to a hybrid model, or vice versa, based on the evolving COVID-19 situation, which could happen before school starts on Aug. 24 or anytime during the 2020-2021 academic year.

According to the district, students uncomfortable with a hybrid-style format are encouraged to opt for the 100% virtual plan.

Option 2: A 100% virtual learning program delivered by district teachers with the same grading and accountability standards expected in the classroom.

This option requires students of all grade levels to be online multiple times a day. For middle and high school students, this learning plan will be more structured and utilize more live virtual instruction than the measures implemented during the district’s temporary spring closure. This also means that grades and assignments will be consistent with what students are learning in the in-person learning model.

Individuals that select the virtual learning plan must also commit for the entire semester.

To help anticipate the needs of the district and how to allocate resources and staff members, families are being asked to select their preferred option by July 26 via an online form available on the district’s website.

“I want to acknowledge the work of the task forces, educators, and health experts who have spent long hours discussing the tough questions and planning for what-ifs. I am also grateful to our families and community for your patience and understanding as we work together through this unprecedented planning-and-preparation challenge,” Superintendent Dr. Nathan Hoven said in an official release.

For more information or online registration, visit fhsdschools.org.

Fort Zumwalt School District

The Fort Zumwalt School District is also slated to re-open Aug. 24, and in preparation, has released its own Return to School Plan. The plan was created in collaboration with the St. Charles County Department of Public Health with CDC recommendations, and information from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

The district also polled families for their preferred learning methods moving forward, and according to a statement from Superintendent Dr. Bernie DuBray, 88% of parents said they wanted in-person schooling to return.

“Our No. 1 priority is to keep our students and staff safe while providing the best education,” DuBray said.

The district will have two instructional options for students for the 2020-2021 school year.

Option 1: In-person instruction with modified schedules as needed. This includes three potential plans labeled Level A, B and C. Level A is full in-person instruction that will take place five days a week. Students will attend in person for the whole day with added safety and health precautions in place.

If the Fort Zumwalt School District is required to reduce the number of students or in the event of a district-wide closure, all in-person learners will move to Level B (students will attend two days a week in-person and three days a week virtually) or Level C (students participate in full virtual instruction).

Decisions to move to Level B or C will be made in conjunction with the St. Charles County Department of Public Health.

Option 2: Full-time Fort Zumwalt Virtual Instruction. This option is a comprehensive virtual learning plan and will look significantly different than the emergency virtual program that was implemented at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Assessment and grading practices will be consistent with those of the in-person classroom.

The time expected for a student to participate in this option will be similar to a typical, in-person, school day.

This is a full semester commitment, even if students in Option 1 move to Level B or Level C.

During the annual online registration process, which opened July 22, families will select in-person or virtual instruction. Families selecting virtual instruction will be contacted by their school to complete the registration process. Students must register by July 31.

For more information about the learning plans and options, visit fz.k12.mo.us.

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