Fayette schools open Aug. 17 with 2 ‘models’: Full-time virtual learning and in-person/virtual combo to start

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School choice form also reopened for parents with July decision deadline — 

Fayette School Superintendent Dr. Joseph Barrow. File photo.
Fayette School Superintendent Dr. Joseph Barrow. File photo.

Fayette County Public Schools will begin the 2020-2021 school year on Aug. 17 and will use both a full-time virtual model and the “yellow” hybrid model that sends students to “bricks and mortar” school buildings two days per week, and with virtual learning three days per week.

The vote at a July 27 called meeting to begin the school year on Aug. 17 was unanimous, as was the subsequent vote to begin the year with both the full-time virtual model and the “yellow” hybrid model that has students in face-to-face classroom instruction two days per week with distance learning three days per week.

Superintendent Jody Barrow said the move to re-open on Aug. 17 gives additional time in terms of parent choice and to build a master schedule for the school year.

Responding to a question by a board member, Barrow said the school year might need to be extended a bit or the days could be made up during the year.

Barrow’s recommendation to begin the school year with the “yellow” hybrid model has Pre-K through 2nd grade attending five days per week, with grades 3-12 having classroom instruction two days per week and virtual learning three days per week.

Doing so allows classrooms, and school buildings, to have a 50 percent reduction in the student population, which also makes social distancing easier to facilitate, Barrow said.

Barrow also noted that, if the spread of the virus in schools or in the community decreases, other grades, beginning with 3rd grade, could begin attending five days per week.

“This is a start,” said Barrow. “I can see the school system phasing in and out of colors through the year.”

Another part of the discussion dealt with special needs kids, for whom some classes will be taught in class five days per week as long as it can be done safely. Other special needs classes can be taught virtually.

Barrow on more than one occasion emphasized that the hybrid model is where the school year will begin, adding that conditions in the community could change for good or bad in terms of infection rates.

“If the data is screaming at us, we’re not going to ignore it,” he said.

Another facet of the hybrid plan includes the requirement that students and staff wear face coverings in the buildings, with face covering breaks scheduled throughout the day. Other precautions include increased disinfecting, contact tracing, additional temperature and health checks and increased social distancing.

The school board was clear that the occasion/s where the school system transitions into another color (green, yellow or red) is an operational decision to be made by school administration, not by the school board.

Pertaining to the parent survey, approximately 77 percent wanted the year in the school building while approximately 23 percent wanted virtual learning. Another survey, which must be completed by midnight July 29, will be available for parents wanting to change their minds on their option of choice and for those who did not take the initial survey.

For a look at the entire 2020-2021 Re-entry Plan visit https://simbli.eboardsolutions.com/Meetings/Attachment.aspx?S=4067&AID=1175227&MID=87041

The school system noted that the operational level of the brick and mortar model is subject to change due to case spread of the virus, and recommendations made by the Georgia Department of Public Health. If the current range of cases is contained, the school system will maintain the yellow level. If confirmed cases decline for an acceptable duration, the school system could shift to the green level where students are in school all day, five days a week. If there is an increase in the spread of cases, the school system will move to the red level with full time distance learning for all brick and mortar students, said school system spokesperson Melinda Berry-Dreisbach.

Within the bricks and mortar option, where students return to school, there are three subsets.

“Green” means starting the school year in the building, along with a large number of safety requirements and with low or no spread of infection present in the community.

“Red” means starting the school year with full-time distance learning done remotely due to a substantial Covid-19 spread and confirmed cases in the community.

“Yellow” is a hybrid of green and red, with students attending class two days per week and virtually/at a distance three days per week. Yellow is determined by a minimum to moderate spread of infection in the community.

Here’s the full news release from the school system:

School start date moved back to August 17, School Choice form reopened

Fayette County Public Schools has moved back the start date of school for a second time to August 17, a week later than the August 10 date announced in early July.

School was originally scheduled to start August 3 prior to the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. This action was taken during a called meeting of the Fayette County Board of Education on July 27.

The board also approved offering both full-time virtual and brick and mortar learning models for the 2020-2021 school year.

Brick and mortar learning will start at the yellow (hybrid) level on August 17. Students pre-K through second grade will return to school five days a week. Students in grades 3-12 will attend school on an A/B schedule, meeting face-to-face at school two days a week and virtually the rest of the week.

Students and staff will be required to wear face coverings while inside school buildings with face covering breaks scheduled throughout the day.

The delayed start date will give parents additional time to consider the school choice model (brick and mortar or full time virtual) best suited for their family’s needs now that the school system has made a decision about how school will be conducted at the start of the new year.

The school choice form has been reopened and should be resubmitted only if parents are changing their original choice of brick and mortar school or full time virtual school, or if they are completing the form for the first time.

The form must be completed by midnight on July 29, and one form must be submitted for each student in a household. Responses will be used to help the school system plan for staffing for the coming school year. Parents who do not complete the form will have their students automatically enrolled in the brick and mortar model.

The school system notes that the operational level of the brick and mortar model is subject to change due to case spread of the virus, and recommendations made by the Georgia Department of Public Health.

If the current range of cases is contained, the school system will maintain the yellow level.

If confirmed cases decline for an acceptable duration, the school system could shift to the green level where students are in school all day, five days a week.

If there is an increase in the spread of cases, the school system will move to the red level with full time distance learning for all brick and mortar students.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Seriously? Cases 0-10 per 100,000? Let’s stop testing then! Decisions are being made out of fear, both political and imagined. And what about all those in the county who received “positive” tests that were never tested?Anyone care to investigate that?
    This virus has a 99.8% recovery rate; even higher in those under age 65. Imagine this board of educators schooling themselves on herd immunity, epidemiology, and virology? Real science is out there and not hard to find. But I suggest you look beyond MSM.
    I agree with That Guy, give us back half (or more) of our taxes or let the parents decide, since we parents and many other Fayette County taxpayers ARE paying for their education as well as the board’s salaries. Sorry Doug.

  2. If they are not going to listen to us and give our kids half an education we need to pay half the taxes. If they expect parents to be teachers three days a week we need to be paid as such by the school system.

  3. Since “Pertaining to the parent survey, approximately 77 percent wanted the year in the school building while approximately 23 percent wanted virtual learning.”
    Why not allow those 23% that want virtual learning (i.e. not really learning but the kids REALLY like it) to stay home and the 77% to get the education that they’ve paid for (flawed indoctrination that it is).

  4. So if Dr. Barrow is looking for facts how about the 77% that are choosing brick and mortar? This is the problem with this board. They are selecting only the facts that are the headlines instead of the will of the people. Embarrassing for our county. Let’s continue to hide in our homes and have only 1 case for hospitalization in the last four days! Tax dollars not at work!