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Martinsville City Public Schools officials lay out 3-phased plan for school resumption

Martinsville City Public Schools officials lay out 3-phased plan for school resumption

From the Martinsville-region COVID-19/coronavirus daily update from state, nation and world: July 7 series
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Martinsville City Schools is planning a three-phase resumption of classes on Aug. 10 — but that doesn’t mean that all students will be back on campuses for the first day of learning.

That information emerged in a quietly issued statement on Monday in which MCPS officials said was a proposal to reopen schools that had been drafted and will be forwarded to the state for review.

Henry County Public Schools included discussion of its plans in a public meeting on June 25, and Patrick County School officials are continuing to mull their options based on an online survey that concluded June 23. Officials are required to submit their plans to the Virginia Department of Education for review if not tacit “approval.”

A release late Monday by HCPS said its plans to reopen on Aug. 10 had been “supported” by VDOE, and officials provided previously discussed details on the system’s website.

But Martinsville City Schools forged ahead with a plan that officials described as “fluid” and that Superintendent Zeb Talley said would be reviewed by the school board at its scheduled meeting on Monday night.

This plan would reopen schools on Aug. 10 but not have any students return to the classroom until the second phase that was outlined in the statement:

  • Phase 1 would provide remote learning for all students. Classes would be conducted remotely via Zoom conferences, emails, instructional videos and phone calls. Laptops, USB drives and learning packets will be supplied to all remote learners. Meal pickup and bus delivery services would continue.
  • Phase 2 would begin at an unspecified date and would create a mixture of face-to-face learning on an staggered and alternating schedule for students in prekindergarten through third grade and for students with disabilities and those learning the English language. Full remote learning would be allowed if health conditions warrant or if requested by parents. Grades 4 through 12 would continue to learn remotely. Those attending face-to-face instruction would receive breakfast and lunch in the classroom. Lunch delivery would continue for those learning remotely. Clearview and Albert Harris and Patrick Henry elementary schools would open at 7:45 a.m. and close at 2:45 p.m.
  • During Phase 3, a hybrid model would be introduced that would include both face-to-face and remote learning, with a full-time virtual program remaining for those with conditions that require them to stay home or if so requested by parents. All schools would be open for face-to-face instruction, starting on a staggered schedule at Clearview and the elementary schools at 7:45 a.m. ending at 3:30 p.m. at Martinsville High School.

All students and staff will be screened when they arrive, and classrooms and buildings will be sanitized each evening. Other frequently touched areas will be cleaned throughout the day, social distancing will be maintained, and personal protection equipment will be provided for everyone.

The release states that a touchless system is being installed for all faucets and flushers in all bathrooms. Touchless water bottle stations will be installed in all schools, and touchless hand sanitizer stations will be available.

None of these plans have been discussed in a public meeting of the Martinsville School Board, and its unclear if any member of the school board has reviewed these plans or had any ex officio input.

But Talley said administrators surveyed parents and teachers to get input from them and that the board would approve the plan before its formal submission to VDOE.

“I appreciate the thoughts of our stakeholders,” he said Monday. “Parents will have the option of choosing between remote instruction or in-person instruction. Our division will emphasize student, family and staff safety as we use flexibility to educate our students. We want our students to receive the best education possible during this pandemic. This is a great opportunity to utilize new learning methods.”

Henry County School Board met and voted to approve its plan devised by its school administration. That plan also includes a staggered schedule and a mix of face-to-face and remote learning.

Most Henry County students will be assigned to a schedule that includes two days of classroom instruction and three days in a virtual setting with parents having the option of requesting total remote learning.

The capacity at any Henry County school will be limited to 50% under the plan, allowing for proper social distancing.

Some students, depending on the circumstances, may attend classroom instructions full-time from the start.

Patrick County school officials are discussing their plans, but an adopted school calendar has the school year starting on Aug. 11. An online survey for parents concluded on June 23 and is still being evaluated.

“We hope to be getting something out this week or early next week,” Patrick County School Superintendent Dean Gilbert said. “One of our survey questions was the instructional method preferred such as blended learning or total remote learning.

“We are supposed to get an update tomorrow [Tuesday] on further guidance so we will need to take that into account.”

Gilbert said once plans have been completed, just as Henry County and Martinsville has done, the plan will be submitted to the state for approval.

Bill Wyatt is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. He can be reached at 276-638-8801, Ext. 236. Follow him @billdwyatt

Bill Wyatt is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. He can be reached at 276-638-8801, Ext. 236. Follow him @billdwyatt

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