During the director of schools’ report at Tuesday night’s Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools Board of Education work session, Millard House shared an update on a plan to reopen the district’s 40 schools for the upcoming school year amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The district’s communicable disease team, composed of leaders from all departments and the Montgomery County Health Department, led planning for reopening schools. School officials said the CDT continually monitors and evaluates the latest local, state and national data, guidance and best practices to develop a flexible plan with the safety and health of students, employees and the entire community as the first priority.
To gain feedback from stakeholders about the safe return to school, the CDT sent surveys in early June. Parents and guardians of more than 36,500 students, along with 5,100 employees, got the chance to complete the survey. With nearly a 50% response rate, 54% of parents and guardians and 60% of employees preferred returning to a traditional, in-person setting in the fall based on comfort level and safety concerns.
The CDT’s goal is to prepare the district with strategic plans for a continuum of options that will ensure the district can provide a high-quality education for all students no matter the circumstances of the pandemic, according to school officials.
At any point during the academic year, the district may need to move between options that include:
• traditional, which refers to in-person classes for 100% of students with health, safety and operational changes to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
• hybrid, which refers to a modification of the traditional five-day, in-person school week with a reduction in class sizes, transportation and building capacities by 50% to allow for increased social distancing.
• remote learning, which refers to the ability for the entire district or a specific school to move strictly to a model in which students are not physically present in the school building but continue learning remotely.
In addition, the district developed a virtual learning option open to all students for the upcoming school year. Virtual learning provides a comprehensive online learning environment, led by an administrator and taught by educators. The program will begin in September. More information is expected soon.
The board-approved first half-day of school for students will be Aug. 11. Aug. 12 will be an additional half-day, and Aug. 14 is scheduled as the first full day. The method in which schools will reopen in August on the continuum of options will be based on the level of community spread of COVID-19 and the district’s ability to adhere to laws, policies and guidelines related to the pandemic. Since the factors continue to evolve, the CDT’s goal is to make the reopening recommendation at least one month ahead of the first half-day of school, officials said.
Resources and information regarding the reopening of schools can be found at cmcss.net/reopening.