Recently, the state's plan for re-opening schools was released and Floyd County Board of Education is preparing at the local level.
Superintendent Danny Adkins said that the county's board has been looking into to how it can better accommodate its students and staff as the district plans for the upcoming school year and how that may look.
According to Adkins, the board put out a parent survey for its students’ families, which he said garnered approximately 2,400 responses. The goal of the poll, Adkins said, was to basically gather some general information regarding things such as "what would better suit your child," as well as help the board learn where it needs to improve going forward as schools prepare to hopefully open back up in the fall.
Adkins said the poll provided some answers to some questions the board wanted parental feedback on. Some of those questions included, potential start dates and parents’ comfort levels.
Adkins said that both staff and parents were on board with around the same start date of Sept. 8, a date he said will be recommended to the board. Adkins added that he believes the board will approve that start date once they review the information from the public.
When the board looked at the survey, Adkins said, another question arose. "How comfortable do you feel in sending your child back to school?" Adkins said 53 percent of respondents said they’re not comfortable with sending their child back.
“What that tells us is, we know we have to have an online presence,” Adkins said. “So one of the options for parents and students is going to be fully online."
Adkins said although he doesn't believe the percentage of students opting for online classes only will reach 53 percent. However, he said he expects the percentage to be closer to around 25 or 30 percent.
The main thing, according to Adkins, is letting the parents and students of Floyd County know that there are options available if that comfort level does not increase until Sept. 8, a date with which both parents and staff were on board according to the poll. Adkins said that whichever avenue parents and students elect to go with, they won't be stuck, as there will be options.
"Say that you choose the online option and say a month down the road you see the number of cases dropping," Adkins said. "And you're like 'I'm starting to feel a little more comfortable, maybe I'm ready to send my child to school' and vice versa because that flexibility will be in place for parents and students to be able to do that.
"You're not tied to whichever option you choose," he added.
Another thing which was provided through the poll, Adkins said, was the use of NTI or non-traditional instruction in Floyd County and how the district must improve on that for its students.
"This was the first year utilizing NTI here in Floyd County," Adkins said. "We knew we had to be a little better at that and I can assure the parents that our online presence is going to be much greater that it was this spring."
Adkins said he believes a lot of parents mistake home schooling for what the district did with its NTI days and online learning, something which according to him, is the opposite.
"When these students are enrolled in the district, we're going to provide you with a device. You'll have access to all the programs that we provide," Adkins said. "Every program we offer they will have access to and they'll have a device to use it with."
Adkins said that currently the school district is planning on having only four day school weeks, as the board wanted to allocate one day out of the week to ensure schools can be "sanitized from top to bottom," while also giving the teachers a day to be able to record lessons and messages to jump drives for students who don't have access to high-speed internet. Those students will be able to take those jump drives home. Once they have completed that, they can upload their work onto the drive and return it to their teacher to receive a new one.
According to Adkins, just as there may be students and parents who may not be fully comfortable returning to the classroom, there may also be teachers, because of that, he said the district will be doing live online teaching sessions.
"We're going to have some teachers that are not going to feel comfortable coming back to a classroom full of students," Adkins said. "And if and when that happens, we will let them teach to an empty classroom and they will be able to stream that online , which will also be recorded, and we'll share that."
Adkins even alluded to the possibility of opening up the cafeteria, for example, in the afternoons, to allow kids who may not have access to high-speed internet, to come in and maintain social distancing while they work on school work.
According to Adkins, bus routes will be able to run at full capacity as long as the students onboard are wearing masks, something he said would be provided to students if they do not have access to one. Adkins said there are also a number of seating charts in the case that buses do not operate at full capacity during their respective routes.
Adkins added that, given the climate of the world in which we are currently living, information is coming out frequently and the district's plans could change going forward, but the district will continue to adhere to the state's guidelines as they come out.
He said the Floyd BOE is committed to providing a safe environment for its faculty, staff and students moving forward.