BOE releases at-home study plan for rest of school year

Published 2:29 pm Wednesday, April 1, 2020

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By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

The Chilton County Board of Education unanimously approved a plan to provide at-home educational options to students for the rest of the school year during a meeting on March 31.

Some board members attended through Zoom video conferencing while other members were spread out in the central office meeting room. The meeting was streamed on the Chilton County Schools YouTube page.

“We have three goals as far as Chilton County goes: provide instruction and assessment, provide feeding and make sure the counselors are available for social and emotional things going on,” Superintendent Jason Griffin said. “If we can make those three things happen in a pandemic, then I will be good, because we have basically rewritten education as we know it in the span of about 48 hours.”

The at-home educational plan allows for an online option, if both the teacher and student have access to the needed resources, and a paper packet option.

Teachers are expected to contact parents or students by April 3 to explain what options are available to the specific student.

“If you do online, you have to have three components: one, the teacher has to be willing and has to have a teaching platform to do that, that could be through email or through one of the learning platforms like Google classroom, any of the other thing that they have been using,” Griffin said. The student has to have a device, and they have to have wifi access. Those three things have to be in place for them to use online instruction.”

Seniors can also contact their school counselor via email for help with college applications, scholarships, etc,

“If a (high school) student is currently failing a course, contact will need to be made immediately and arrangements made to identify standards not mastered,” according to an information sheet released by the school system. “Assignments will then need to be assigned in an attempt to complete the course by May 24.”

ACCESS and dual enrollment classes will continue.

Informational packets will be mailed to those students who do not have the online option. Postage for this mailing will be paid for out of the general fund. Initially, having each school pay for the postage had been discussed. However, board member Pam Price suggested using the general fund, since schools were already going to be losing revenue from the premature ending of sports seasons.

Board member Jaqueline Sullivan asked that a cover letter from the teacher be included at the front of the packet outlining when the teacher would be available and how they could be contacted.

The school system will use a series of all calls and its Facebook page to keep parents informed on the instruction plan, graduation, whether a prom will be held, etc.

Graduation ceremonies will be scheduled for June 6-12.

A frequently asked questions sheet will also be published on the school system’s website to further help inform parents.

Griffin stressed that the goal was to have all teachers working from home by April 15. Teachers will still be available to students 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. as usual, just in a different way.

“Right now, we are ending a school year pretty much at a very early time and we want to ensure that instruction continues, but the safety of our teachers, employees, students, parents, everybody — that is our first concern, safety,”

Board President Angie Sanderson stressed that the safety of employees was a major concern as was continuing to provide education.

Work completed, whether through the online or packet format, will be graded as satisfactory and be given a 100 for the fourth nine week grading period or as incomplete.

Griffin said if a student receives an incomplete, “that grade will not hurt them, but it will not be used, the third nine week grading period will be used as the final grade for both third and fourth.”

“I think that is the only fair way to do it,” Griffin said.

Board member Lori Patterson said efforts are also being made to make wifi available for teachers and students in school parking lots. School system employee Nic Cardwell said he was looking into it.

“There will be a little testing to make sure, but it will be limited to the amount of signal we can get out in to the parking lot without buying anything new,” Cardwell said.

Those using the wifi would be required to stay in the vehicle.

Board members expressed concern about students entering the building to retrieve belongings and about keeping educators accountable during this season. Items left in the buildings can be picked up outside the school by appointment only on April 7-9. Contact your school’s administrator for details.

Anything not picked up would be available at the beginning of next school year.

Prescriptions that have been left with the school nurse will be available for pickup outside of the student’s school by appointment only on April 7 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Griffin said the pickup food options will remain available. Starting April 6, food will be available Monday and Wednesday with amounts large enough to cover the other weekdays that food is not being served.

Chilton County School will still end the 2019-2020 school year on May 21 as scheduled.