In a Williamson County Schools board meeting May 18, Superintendent Jason Golden said the school district was planning for three different scenarios when looking at when schools reopen this fall in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“Our district goal for this fall is to provide students the maximum possible direct teacher instruction within the state and local health department COVID-19 safety guidelines,” Golden said. “Our priority is to be back in school, but at the same time we recognize that we’re going to need to do some planning for some eventualities that, just six months ago, many people in the entire world never thought were possibilities.”
In a presentation given to the board of education at its May 14 work session, Golden laid out details for the three scenarios a WCS planning team was in the process of preparing. An exact date for a specific scenario's adoption was not given, as Golden said the response would be flexible based on guideline changes from state authorities.
Scenario 1: On-campus school
According to Golden, the first scenario the district is working on would be to allow students back into school buildings with health plans that match updated safety guidelines if coronavirus cases go down.
In this scenario, health department protocols like frequent hand washing, masks, surface sanitizing and social distancing would be in effect, while daily schedule changes to cafeterias, recess, class transitions, visitor protocols and extracurricular events would also be in place.
Scenario 2: Remote school
If the coronavirus case numbers grow again in the fall, the second scenario would be to further promote learning from home by maximizing digital availability while planning for other ways to engage with students who do not have access to the internet.
According to the presentation, students would continue to receive instructional time from teachers each day in each subject, and the planning team would work on ways to provide food service and counseling for students learning from home.
Scenario 3: Hybrid/blended on-campus and remote school
The superintendent described the third scenario as a “hybrid model,” which might include some instruction within school buildings while staggering instruction time to allow for more distance between students. Health protocols from the first scenario would be in place while students were in school buildings, while remote learning protocols from the second scenario would be in place outside of school.
Golden said the school district was committed to providing daily teacher instruction to students regardless of which scenario would be put into place this fall, and teachers throughout WCS have gone through more training and have been given more tools for online teaching than ever before. Additionally, the board of education approved the spending of over $1.5 million for over 18,500 new Chromebooks for WCS students at its May 18 meeting. If the purchase of the Chromebooks is approved by the Williamson County Board of Commissioners, each student will be provided a laptop no matter which scenario is chosen for the new school year.
“A theme I’ve heard among families is, ‘What will school look like even if we’re able to go back?’” Golden said. “We’re never going to be 100% the same, but I want everyone to know that when we start back ... we’re going to do everything we can to make this just as good and even better than where we’ve been in our high-performing school district.”