Fairbanks eyes two days a week in classroom

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Fairbanks officials want parents to prepare for the possibility of students attending class just two days a week and a later start date.
Following Gov. Mike DeWine’s recommendations Thursday, Fairbanks released its Safe Start plan. The plan outlines four “learning levels.”
“We have encouraged parents to prepare for Learning Level One or Two,” Fairbanks Superintendent Adam Schirg said this morning.
Learning Level One would have the buildings at or near normal capacity. Students and families would be able to choose, “an all remote learning experience.”
“Though there may be some health-related restrictions regarding COVID-19 still in place, such as social distancing when practical, students will return to a learning model of daily in-person instruction across the district,” according to the district’s restart guide.
Schirg said the district would introduce digital resources and platforms, “in preparation for movement between learning levels.”
Additionally, transportation would not be impacted.
Learning Level Two would have the buildings at or near 50% capacity.
Under Learning Level Two, some students would go to school Monday and Tuesday while other students would go to the building on Thursday and Friday.
“Wednesdays would be for sanitation and for teachers preparing their blended approach to learning,” Schirg said.
Students would have assignments and online learning the other days.
In-person days will be communicated to families prior to the school year to assist families in planning. 
Schirg said the students selected for each day will be based on keeping families together, transportation routes and class distribution and size.
He said family members will be scheduled in school for the same days. Transportation may be limited or amended from the current routing and schedule to meet the changed schedule.
Regardless of how the year begins, when it begins will be different. Fairbanks originally anticipated a student start date of Aug. 19. The student start date has been moved to Aug. 24.
“Staff will report the previous week for work days, professional development and health and safety training, so we can prepare to safely welcome students back safely on Aug. 24,” Schirg said.
When students begin attending class they will need to follow health and safety guidelines.
Schirg said social distancing practices will “vary depending on our learning level.”
While the district will work to keep a distance between students, “students will be required to wear cloth facial coverings in certain school environments where social distancing is not possible.”
All staff will be required to wear facial coverings — cloth masks or face shields, depending on job requirements.
Schirg said the district will be developing a student facial covering policy based on the guidance released by the State of Ohio.
“We will work with teachers, parents, support staff and community members to finalize our practices over the coming days,” Schirg said.
Students and staff will be required to conduct symptom assessment before reporting to school.
“If any person in a household is showing symptoms of COVID-19, or is actively ill, all students in that household must stay home,” according to the restart guide.
Regular hygiene practices including hand sanitizing, hand washing and using refillable water bottles instead of drinking fountains will be implemented.
The district has also outlined Learning Level Three – where “small groups of students, who may not have equitable access to education through our remote learning model, will have the opportunity to receive direct in-person instruction” while other students would be learning remotely. Learning Level Four outlines a scenario when teachers could be in the buildings but all instruction would be done remotely.
Schirg said he knows that at times people will disagree about decisions but the district will do its best to communicate without overwhelming parents with information. He said decisions have been made thoughtfully with input from a variety of committees as well as staff, students, parents and community members.
He said the district will be preparing a guide in the coming weeks.
“We also know that we have to be flexible and plan for a lot of contingencies because of how rapidly things have changed in the state of Ohio the last couple of weeks,” Schirg said.



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