Guthrie Superintendent Dr. Mike Simpson said the upcoming school year will be a challenge for everyone involved and the odds of having in classroom stoppages will be likely.
“I think there is a good likelihood we are going have time that we have to either close the school, classroom or the entire district at some point throughout the school year,” Simpson told school board members Monday night at the Board of Education meeting.
The seven-member school board darted questions at the superintendent on the school district’s back to school plan during the ongoing pandemic with COVID-19.
“There are more questions than there are answers, but we got to have a started point that is adaptable,” Simpson said about the plan which involved administrative staff, the school attorney and the Logan County Health Department.
The school board voted 7-0 to approve the working plan but noted there will be changes to the plan along the way.
“The last three weeks has shown us that things can change in a hurry and we have to be nimble enough to make those changes for the safety and well-being of everyone,” the superintendent said. “Many conditions cannot be predicted, and we have to acknowledge that. There is no way to have a road map to solve every problem that this has created.”
Part of the plan shows masks will be encouraged to wear when social distancing of six feet or more isn’t possible. Simpson admitted the mask topic is another challenge.
“(Masks) seems to be an item that is very divisive and very challenging. When you factor in the challenges of getting students to wear a mask is daunting.”
The plan also calls for parents to screen their child with a checklist certifying they have screened their child before sending them off to school.
“Parents have to be in with us on this and we have to be in this together,” Simpson explained. “It has to be a partnership. Sending your child to school when they are not feeling well is not something that we can have.”
Parents are also being asked to bring their child to school to avoid less students riding on the bus.
School officials are looking into safety precautions to assist bus drivers avoid as much contact with students as possible.
“Honestly, my greater concern is our staff. The numbers tell us that the younger you are the easier it is to fight it off, but our staff is the one that I’m more concerned about especially the ones who are being compromised.”
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If the time comes when a classroom, or school is shutdown because of a spike in COVID-19 cases, the district has adopted a distance learning plan.
Google Classroom and Edgenuity Online Courseware will be utilized for grades 6‐12, and Exact Path Online Courseware will be used for grades K‐5.
School staff will use professional development days to be trained on implementing those options to assure there will be no loss of instruction if distance learning is needed.
“That is our plan going forward,” Asst. Supt. Doug Ogle said to board members. “I know that it looks complex to some, but its going to be better than the paper, pencil. We have had a lot of time to make sure we are going to provide our students an education.”
In addition, the district will be expanding their Bluejay Academy, which is a full time virtual class with online curriculum for individual students in grades six through 12.