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City’s plan to reopen schools awaits state approval

A proposal to reopen schools, drafted by Martinsville City school officials, now is awaiting state approval.

Students could return to classes on a limited basis as early as Aug. 10 if the plan passes the state’s muster.

The three phase proposal was created with the understanding that as the school year progresses, the phases would be fluid. Additionally, school officials said the safety and health of its students, staff, school families and community was a top priority in all of the decision-making that led to the proposal.

“Like many school divisions throughout the state, this is going to be very unique and very different for our young people and our parents as well as our staff and community,” Martinsville School Superintendent Dr. Zebedee Talley, Jr., said during an interview on BTW21. “Basically we are looking at a hybrid model where each young person will get a chance to come to school each week.

“There will be some combination of remote learning and in-person learning. We are looking at about 50 percent of our students coming each day. It’s subject to how things go health-wise, because safety is the most important thing for our students and staff,” he said. “We’ve learned during this pandemic to be very fluid; to look at the changes and to adjust.”

Each of the three phases is divided into Instruction, Nutrition and Health and Safety.

In Phase 1, remote learning is proposed for all students. Laptops, USB drives, and/or packets will be supplied to all students for remote learning; Teachers and school staff will provide educational and social/emotional support of students through Zoom conferences, emails, instructional videos, and phone calls.

Nutrition: The feeding program will provide pick-up services and bus delivery to all families.

Health and Safety: Buildings will be closed and deep cleaned; School buses will be sanitized.

During Phase 2, Pre-K through third grade will attend for face-to-face with social distancing on and alternating schedule; grades four through 12 will participate in remote learning. Special Populations of IEP students (Students with Disabilities and ISL students (English Learners) may attend face-to-face. Remote learning will be provided for students with underlying health conditions and/or parents not comfortable sending students to school. Teachers and school staff will provide educational and social/emotional support of students through online conferences, emails, instructional videos, and phone calls.

Nutrition: Students attending school will receive breakfast and lunch in classrooms. Students not attending school will receive lunch delivery or pick-up.

Health and Safety: Buses will be cleaned between runs. Classrooms and buildings will be cleaned each evening. Students and staff will be screened upon arrival. Isolation, cleaning, and VHD notification plan is in place. PPE will be provided for students and staff.

Daily Schedules: Clearview Early Childhood Center 7:45 a.m.– 2:40 p.m.;  K-3, 7:50 a.m. – 2:45 p.m.

In Phase 3, Hybrid learning – remote and face-to-face options — would be available to all students. Full-time virtual learning available to all students based on medical needs of students/families and parental preference. Students in the same household will be scheduled for face-to-face instruction to accommodate family needs. Students in the same household will sit together on the bus for health and safety. New bus routes will be developed based on the alternating days of face-to-face, virtual instruction and social distancing. Buses will run double runs to accommodate social distancing.

Daily Schedule: Clearview Early Childhood Center: 7:45 a.m.– 2:40 p.m.; K – 5: 7:50 a.m.– 2:45 p.m.; 6 – 8: 8:20 a.m.– 3:20 p.m.; 9 – 12: 8:25 a.m.– 3:30 p.m.

Nutrition: Students attending school will receive breakfast and lunch while at school. Parents may register on the MCPS webpage for meal delivery when their students are not in school or are participating in full-time remote learning. Meal deliveries will be on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and include multiple meals. Meals can also be picked up at school between 11 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.

Health and Safety: Students and staff will be screened upon arrival. Classrooms and buildings will be sanitized each evening. Frequently touched areas will be cleaned throughout the day. PPE will be provided for students and staff. Students will remain with the same groups and maintain six-foot distancing to decrease contact. Classrooms will be setup to maintain six-foot distancing. Students will be assigned technology and other materials to be used only by that student for the school year.

Isolation, cleaning, and VHD notification plan is in place in conjunction with the local health department. Buses will rework routes to make double runs as necessary to accommodate social distancing. Students will sit six feet apart; drivers and students will wear masks as appropriate by age. Buses will be sanitized between runs.

The school division is adding new touchless systems in all of its buildings to alleviate the amount of areas touched during the day. These touchless systems include touchless faucets and flushers in all bathrooms, touchless water bottle stations in all schools, and touchless hand sanitizer stations in all schools.

The schools are working to address unfinished or lost learning due to the COVID-19 school closure in early spring. To ensure students’ learning progresses, teachers and administrators will use data collected on March 13 concerning untaught Standards of Learning. Teachers have already started reworking the curriculum to include unfinished learning and priority standards for next year.

Teachers will use “Just in Time” assessments during instruction to determine pre-requisite skills that need to be taught and/or retaught, and teachers will provide small group instruction and one-on-one instruction during remote learning and face-to-face sessions to address any learning gaps.

Professional development opportunities also will be provided to ensure teachers feel comfortable with the changing landscape of teaching remotely and with new safety measures during face-to-face instruction.

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