Officials with Meigs County Schools are making preparations for students to return to full in-person schooling this fall.
While nothing is set in stone yet due to the coronavirus pandemic, Meigs Director of Schools Clint Baker said any student who chooses to can attend in-person beginning in August.
“This could change quickly,” he said.
Registration is set for Aug. 7 and then the first day for students is Aug. 10 and Baker said the first three weeks of school will be staggered so that teachers can assess where students are academically after the long break and everyone can get used to the new precautions against the virus.
“We’ll have an idea through the staggered weeks where students will be and then we can adjust to that,” he said.
Students will be divided into groups for that three-week stretch, he noted.
“It will be an A/B type thing,” Baker said, noting that potential plans include having half the students (Group A) attend Mondays and Thursdays for the first three weeks and the other half of students (Group B) attend Tuesdays and Fridays during the period.
Wednesday would be a cleaning and sanitizing day with students out, but teachers working.
Baker added that during that three-week stretch, even when a student wasn’t physically in school, they would still have assignments to work on.
“We would send out lessons virtually,” Baker said. “We’re still taking care of the students’ instruction on the other days of the week.”
Any student or parent who is uncomfortable with the idea of attending school in person this year will have a virtual option as well, Baker said.
“We started planning for this back in March,” he said of virtual schooling. “We will have an all-virtual platform ready in July.”
He said he does expect some students to take advantage of that option, though most parents have expressed an interest in their children returning to school.
In order to accommodate students who choose to attend virtually, Baker said plans are being drawn up to overcome internet limitations.
“We’ll turn up the wireless access points in the parking lots to take advantage of the schools’ wifi,” he said, adding that other options include having packets that children can pick up and dropping them off at students’ homes.
The virtual platform will be through Google Classrooms and there will also be webcams in each class to record teachers’ instruction periods. He said that students attending virtually will have access to everything each of the schools have to offer.
“We want all our kids to learn from Meigs County teachers,” Baker said. “The online platform is at no cost.”
The students who attend virtually will also be able to participate in sports as normal, he pointed out.
Baker added that there will be health precautions taken at each school to help minimize the risk of the coronavirus.
“We’ll do our best at each building to social distance,” he said. “We have new protocols for cleaning and sanitizing. Everything will be cleaned like it’s never been before.”
Bus routes are expected to remain as normal, but there is a possibility that buses may need to run the routes extra times in order to lessen the risk of spreading the virus.
“We’re going to take that a day at a time,” he said, noting he hopes no changes to routes are needed.
“Cleaning buses and seats definitely will take place,” Baker said, adding that cleaning will occur after each morning route and then after each afternoon route.
The system has bought a machine similar to a fogger that is expected to clean the virus.
Masks are not required, but Baker said he hopes people will wear them.
“At this point, masks are strongly encouraged, but that’s subject to change like this whole model,” he explained.
If anyone has more questions about the plan as school approaches, Baker noted that they can call the central office or any of the school offices to discuss it further.
“We’ve worked extremely hard to develop this plan,” he said.