Williamson County Schools released a basic plan for the return of school in the fall, including a framework for three different scenarios that will be further fleshed out by a comprehensive planning team.
WCS Superintendent Jason Golden shared Thursday night during the Board of Education's work session that the district has created a planning team with representation from each department, including teachers, special education, administrators, transportation, technology, health, parents and more.
District 12 school board member Nancy Garrett asked that parents from the special education community specifically be included on the team.
This team will devise detailed plans for schools within guidelines determined by the district staff for three scenarios: fully on-campus school, completely remote school, and a hybrid of on-campus and remote learning.
Golden shared that the district's goal is "to provide students the maximum possible direct teacher instruction within the state and local health department COVID-19 safety guidelines." He said they will return to in-person learning if possible but will be at the mercy of local and state safety guidance.
He also said that the district will coordinate with Williamson, Inc. and the business sector, recognizing that many workers are parents and are affected by both schools and the business world.
He presented to the board a list of instructional norms that will pertain to each of the three potential scenarios:
• Teachers will have daily instructional interaction with their students.
• All students will have access to a Chromebook. (The board will vote on a request to set aside over $1.5 million for more than 18,500 new Chromebooks at its meeting on Monday night.)
• All grade levels will use online learning management systems, such as Schoology and Google Classroom, and digital learning tools, such as Zoom and Screencastify.
Listed below are some of the specific guidelines for each individual planning scenario.
• Implement health department protocols in addition to hand washing, hand and surface sanitizing, PPE, social distancing, et cetera.
• Adjust schedules in accordance with health protocols, such as cafeteria, recess, class transition and assembly schedules.
• Consider alterations such as changes to physical education curriculum, reduced daily class transitions and field trip restrictions.
• Establish student participation and behavior expectations for digital learning.
• Create plan for students without internet access. (According to a recent district survey, to which over 50% of WCS families responded, 2% of families do not have internet access, and 9% do not have reliable internet access.)
• Establish expectations for daily engagement in each subject (and a plan to address students struggling with engagement), assessment norms, and teacher communication.
• Create plan for the School Age Child Care program, food service, school counseling and more.
Golden shared that this plan will emphasize student accountability into remote learning, in contrast to the state standards for this school year's final quarter, which did not require attendance or participation.
"We had some parents say, 'I would like some accountability for my child,'" Golden said. "This process and this plan actually gives that, but it's also going to include some flexibility so that, when students hit those snags through those distance issues, teachers will be giving that flexibility to make sure that we focus on their learning the standards."
• Apply health protocols from on-campus school plan.
• Apply distance learning protocols from remote school plan.
• Consider instructional and programming changes, and plan for staggered student schedules.
Golden said that social distancing guidelines will majorly affect how school services and instruction can operate. For instance, he said that bus service would be very difficult if in-person gatherings are still limited to 10 people or less.
Golden added that, for students who are vulnerable due to pre-existing health conditions, homebound schooling is an option.
"We are thinking of doing homebound using both virtual or remote options as well as, if we need to be and can be, in person for some of those students," said Maria Griego, the executive director of student support services. "It really allows our students that have to be home that access really to more of their teachers in a real-time basis with Zoom and Google Classroom and Schoology."
Garrett also asked WCS staff to consider how extracurricular activities factor into these scenarios.
Golden said that official decisions around which plan will be implemented at the start of the school year will be made in July.
"This has the potential, depending on what happens over the course of the fall, to flow back and forth because we might get a directive from the state, you know, 'Blank happened; you need to be closed down,' so we quickly jump to online for a relatively short window of time and come back to some hybrid or come back to full," Golden said.
He emphasized that the district hopes to return to on-campus school if possible but is planning for other possibilities as well.
"A wise school leader makes that plan, establishes their priority, but plans for the possibilities," Golden said. "The framework that I gave you is just that — it's a framework; it's not every detail. ... What we've done is establish the basic plan and the basic framework, knowing that we're working hard and there's still a lot of work to do over the summer."
View Golden's PowerPoint document with more framework details below. The school board will hold its next meeting virtually on Monday at 6:30 p.m. For more information, visit wcs.edu.