The Franklin Special School District Board of Education voted unanimously July 20 to approve the district's back-to-school framework, which give parents and students the option of choosing between in-person and virtual instruction for the 2020-21 school year.

The plan, which was reviewed during the board's July 17 work session, includes guidance for two scenarios: one in which most students attend in-person and one for if most students attend virtually. The plan includes protocol for sanitation, the use of face masks for students and staff and screening for coronavirus symptoms.

For students learning virtually, the district will provide a set number of learning hours per day, which will vary by grade level. The district will utilize Zoom, Google Classroom and other programs to assist in virtual learning.

While the framework has been approved, Director of School David Snowden emphasized that due to the nature of the virus and how quickly cases can emerge, the plan is subject to change.

"What we need to be mindful of is this pandemic is always changing. This plan has to be fluid so that we can make changes to address whatever situation comes toward us," Snowden said. "It's not a perfect plan, as I've said from the beginning, every plan at this phase is an imperfect plan because it cannot address every single item that may occur and that we don't really know about in some cases."

During their vote, the school board granted Snowden the authority to make changes to the plan as needed after notifying the board.

The framework includes a protocol for the closure of schools should the number of active cases in Williamson County rise to a certain threshold. Should the number of cases rise to a moderate level—between an active case level of 0.5% and 1% of the county population—the district could allow students in schools at reduced capacity, prioritizing in-person instruction for students with disabilities, English language learners, and pre-K through second grade.

Should the number of active cases rise to a high level—with more than 2% of the county population having active cases—the district could choose to move all students to virtual learning, with a small group of students with disabilities allowed to learn on campus.

To help address any technology issue for students, Mary Decker, associate director of schools for teaching and learning, said the district has purchased Wi-Fi hot spots as well as Chromebooks and other devices for student use.

Parents of students in FSSD must choose by July 24 whether their child will attend school virtually or in-person for the fall semester.

Williamson County Schools approved a similar plan July 13.

See the entire framework here.