Triad’s Superintendent said she expects most students in the district to return to school in-person for the upcoming year.
During Thursday’s Board of Education meeting, which was held virtually, the board unanimously approved the district’s Reset/Restart Plan for the 2020-21 school year.
Superintendent Vickie Hoffman said the district will have various restrictions depending on the Public Health Advisory System provided by the Ohio Department of Health.
At Level 1, which Champaign County is currently at, or Level 2, Hoffman said families will have a choice between returning to school for in-person classes, or staying at home for online learning.
She said those who elect to stay home will need to fill out and submit an information form, but she said she only expects “between 5% and 10%” not to return to school.
If every family chooses to return to school, Hoffman said the district has the capacity to bring 100% of students back while observing safety guidelines like face coverings, social distancing and taking temperatures.
She said a Level 2 will operate similarly to a Level 1, except school staff will take students temperatures and work more actively to ask students who are not feeling well to stay home.
Under a Level 3, Hoffman said only half of students will be in the buildings.
Students will be divided based on families and bus routes, with one half at school on Monday and Wednesday and the other half on Tuesday and Thursday. Hoffman said Friday will be reserved for students with special needs or gifted students.
She said online learning will “look very different” than it did during the end of the 2020 school year.
“If you have first period, you’re going to sign into first period at home” and participate in the class online, Hoffman said.
She emphasized, “At least we’re going to be teaching, not expecting the parents to do that.”
Hoffman said students will have the first three weeks of classes to switch from online learning to attending school in-person, or vice versa. After that point, she said she will only approve a change at the beginning of the second semester.
She said ensuring students are receiving a quality education is the district’s priority.
“If you don’t do the online things, we’re going to have to force you to come back,” she said, noting that health emergencies are an exception.
Hoffman said truancy laws are still in place and the district would be required to send students to court if they willingly choose not to engage in classes, after multiple attempts from district staff.
“It’s our job to educate you through coronavirus or no coronavirus,” she said.
For those in class, the superintendent noted that the face covering plan varies based on grade level and the color-code of the county.
If the county remains lower than a Level 3, or Red Alert, Hoffman said family members who choose not to wear a face covering will need to turn in a waiver that she must approve.
She said the waiver is necessary in the case a student tests positive, so health department officials know who was wearing a mask for the sake of contact tracing investigations.
Hoffman said she understands some families are uncomfortable with wearing a mask, but they will also be asked if they will be willing to wear a face shield instead.
She said she wants to offer every option to ensure as few people as possible are required to quarantine if a student were to test positive.
“My belief is the kids who have been in that room (with someone that tested positive) that have been wearing masks, there’s a good chance you won’t need to be quarantined,” she explained.
In any case, students in kindergarten through third grade will not be required to wear a mask while in school buildings.
However, she said those classrooms will be deemed “Mask Choice Zones,” because younger students can wear a mask if they would like to do so.
If the county were upgraded to a Level 3, Hoffman said she expects there would no longer be a waiver not to wear masks and they would be required at all times while indoors.
All students, no matter their age, and bus drivers will be required to wear a mask while on the school bus. She said this will allow students to ride two per seat.
She noted that disposable masks will be available on the bus for students who do not have one.
In certain, fuller bus routes, if all students choose to return to school, Hoffman said the limit to two students per seat would require the district to run additional shuttles.
Hoffman said she held multiple forums and met with over 100 parents while developing the plan to return to school. She encouraged any family members to reach out to her via email, phone or Facebook to discuss any concerns.
“I’d rather answer a question than have people frustrated,” she said.
Hoffman said detailed plans will be shared with families on Monday.
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