CCPS releases opening plans

Published 1:36 pm Thursday, July 2, 2020

Charlotte County Public Schools (CCPS) are set to open on Aug 10 but will be operating very differently than in years past.

CCPS Superintendent Robbie Mason presented reopening plans during a Thursday, June 25 school board meeting. The plan is based on state guidance to protect students, faculty and staff from the coronavirus.

Robbie Mason

Social distancing guidelines have created space issues in the classroom, and according to Mason, most classrooms would only be able to have about 12 students in a class at one time while maintaining six-foot spacing between students.

Because of these guidelines, all students will not come back to school every day.

Students will be assigned to one of two groups. The first group will attend school in person on Mondays and Tuesdays and receive remote instruction from their teachers for the rest of the week.

The second group of students will attend school on Wednesdays and Thursdays and receive remote instruction on Fridays, Mondays, and Tuesdays.

Mason said the breakdown of assigned days for individual students would be released once transportation numbers are finalized.

“There will be no in-person instruction available for students on Fridays,” Mason said. “Staff will use Fridays to contact parents, receive calls from parents, and update remote lessons for the next week.”

Mason said parents and teacher communication would constantly occur, but Fridays will provide a day specifically for communication with families.

“Once the days that individual students will attend school is set, students will have to continue attending on the specified days because of transportation and class size issues that switching attendance days would cause,” Mason explained.

According to Mason, this guidance allows all students to return to school when Virginia enters Phase 3 with six-foot social distancing in place for all areas, including school buses and classrooms. Virginia is set to enter Phase 3 Wednesday, July 1.

“We wish we could bring all students back to school every day, but that is not an option for us at this time,” Mason said. “We do not have enough space to meet state guidelines with everyone attending on the same days.”

Besides the in-person option, parents will be able to have their children participate in 100% remote learning throughout the week without attending school in-person. Students will receive instruction on new material, grades will be taken, and report cards will be issued quarterly.

Instructional material will be downloaded and provided to students which will eliminate most of the need for the internet other than retrieving new lessons and submitting work.

CCPS has placed WiFi hotspots outside all three elementary schools, and the school board office, for students to use for internet purposes. When students using 100% remote learning are prepared to return to school, parents will need to contact their child’s school one week in advance to give administrators and transportation staff enough time to prepare social distancing measures for that child’s classroom and bus. Parents of students who begin the year receiving in-person instruction who wish to switch to fully remote learning during the year will be able to do so by contacting their child’s school.

Mason explained to the board that this required distancing would also have a tremendous impact on the number of students that can be on a school bus at one time.

“Only 10 to 12 students would be able to occupy a bus in order to meet six-foot distancing requirements,” Mason said. “CCPS has submitted a health variance which would require students and bus drivers to wear a mask while on the school bus and, in turn, capacity could increase to one per seat or 20 to 24 students.”

Mason said students from the same household would be able to sit together on the bus.

To keep students and staff safe, both groups will have to undergo basic health screenings at the beginning of the school day.

Buses will be unloaded one at a time, and students will report directly to their first class where the teacher will check their temperature with a touchless thermometer, and students will be asked a few questions about their exposure to people who are ill. Staff will be screened in the office when checking into the building daily. Custodial staff will clean handrails, bathrooms, and other areas frequently used by students and staff. These cleanings will take place periodically throughout the day as students occupy these areas. Hand sanitizer will be readily available for student use. Students will be asked to bring their own water bottle to school and only use water fountains for the purpose of refilling their bottles.

“This is all about keeping our students and staff safe while providing the best education that we can under the circumstances,” Mason said. “I hope that the state will offer us flexibility in social distancing during the next few weeks. If this occurs, we will revisit our plans and hopefully bring students back to school more than two days per week.”