It may be an unconventional approach, Floyd County Schools Superintendent Jeff Wilson told board members, but it covers a lot of bases for reopening schools in August.
They propose to bring in students from kindergarten through sixth grade for in-person instruction, but to spread them through all of the school facilities. Students in higher grades would participate in online instruction.
The plan — which is still in the works and will be discussed during a called board meeting Monday at 8 a.m. — would include having the teachers who would normally be instructing the students continue to instruct the students. Adding that sense of normalcy to an uncommon situation may help the adjustment, he said.
“It would be complicated, but their teachers would be with them,” Assistant Superintendent John Parker said.
The seventh- through twelfth-grade teachers would teach remotely and be assigned the new multitude of duties related to preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
The problem, Wilson told the board earlier this week, is that “we’ve been in orange quite some time.”
And that coronavirus threat-level assessment doesn’t look like it will change anytime soon, according to public health projections.
Other area school systems, including Cartersville, are going to every-other-day classes and many systems in metro Atlanta are starting back exclusively online.
Neither option settles many conflicts for working parents.
“Every other day doesn’t solve that child care issue,” Wilson said.
When polling teachers and community members, childcare was one of the primary issues of concern. Approximately 14% of teachers polled said they would have issues with instructing in school while students were out.
They’ve looked at a lot of plans for reopening and gotten even more community feedback, Parker said.
Their advantage in this unique situation, he explained, comes from what was viewed as a disadvantage — a declining student population.
“We’ve got a lot of physical space in our school system,” Parker said. “Every building we have would be utilized to teach these kids.”
The innovative plan, however, may or may not be moot.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was reporting late Wednesday that the state Board of Education may adopt a resolution at its Thursday meeting to push back the start of school to Sept. 8.
It’s also unclear if the state board has the authority to make local school systems comply.
Among other things the board discussed in its meeting Monday was how a shortage of Floyd County police officers would change their school resource officer plan for the coming year.
The school system’s eight officers will be down to six this year. The plan is to have an officer at each school and two officers working as floaters between two school areas each. For example, one floater may work the Model and Armuchee area while another covers the Pepperell and Coosa area.
If there are short term contract issues or personnel shortages, they also could contract certified officers from the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office.