By Seth Dukes
The Meade County School District has released plans for how school will resume this year. Students can either participate in traditional, in-person instruction, which begins on Aug. 5, or a new virtual option called MyMEADE ONLINE.
In-person instruction will be familiar in many ways, but also different in the sense that changes have been made to enhance health and safety precautions and comply with the governor’s Healthy at School guidelines.
“Our goal is to create an environment that provides an opportunity for students to return to the traditional school experience, while providing effective safeguards to protect the health and safety of students and staff to the greatest extent possible,” says an informational piece from the district about the in-person instruction option.
Students and staff will practice safe social distancing to the greatest extent possible. Signage will be posted, and frequent handwashing and hygiene practices will be encouraged. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the campus, and high-touch areas will be cleaned and sanitized multiple times throughout the day. Masks will be required on campus when social distancing is not possible. Staff and students will be screened for symptoms, and any that exhibit symptoms will not be present in the school.
There will be no field trips for the 2020-2021 school year, and no visitors will be allowed in classrooms. School visitors must call ahead and make an appointment.
The online option, MyMEADEONLINE, is designed for families that would like to maintain their connection with their enrolled school and district, but don’t yet feel comfortable sending their students back to school on Aug. 5. Students will attend school remotely via a virtual model.
“Students will have opportunities for scheduled times, weekly virtual class meetings, and digital resources and assignments that can be completed at home. The majority of the instructional time in this model will be self-paced instruction that fits the time schedule needed for the family. This learning model provides families the flexibility to choose an instructional model to meet their needs during these uncertain times, and reflects our district’s commitment to providing a high-quality instructional experience, no matter what the setting,” says an informational piece from the district about MyMEADE ONLINE.
Some courses will only be offered through the traditional, in-person instruction option.
MyMEADE ONLINE will be significantly different from NTI, which was only ever intended as a short-term option.
Meade County Schools Superintendent Mark Martin says that this is something the district has been working very hard on for months, collaborating with state and health officials. He says their goal has always been to offer a traditional start.
“We feel that, if we are able to go to school on Aug. 5, we want to,” said Martin. “We also understand it’s a fluid situation and that could change the week before.”
Later this month, the district will send out an automated message about opting in. Elementary school students will be called on July 13. Middle school students will be called on July 14. High school students will be called on July 15. Make-up calls will automatically be sent on July 16 and July 17. Martin, who believes a majority of the students will opt for in-person instruction, says that input received from this will help them plan for what to expect. He says they’ll also be continuing to put out information to the public to help families who are undecided on which option is best for them.
Martin says they will also be very flexible on attendance. School districts had the choice this year to base their state funding on either the 2018-2019 school year or the 2019-2020 school year. Most districts, chose the 2018-2019 school year, including Meade County. This ensures that enrollment and attendance will not affect the amount of funding the district receives from the state.
“We’re going to be very flexible on attendance,” said Martin. “I know that’s probably a concern of our families. Our goal is to keep kids connected, to be flexible, and meet the unique needs of our students in this unique situation.”
Families can visit bit.ly/MeadeBackToSchool to learn more or submit a question to the district.