As we near the end of September, I wanted to provide an update on the in-person activities happening throughout the District and communicate the plan for incrementally increasing in-person opportunities for our students. In the past four weeks we have been able to provide in-person instruction for multiple special education students at each building throughout the District. Those programs have gone well and students and families have appreciated the opportunities for the in-person support. In addition to these programs, our team has been providing special education and talented and gifted individual testing, as well as preschool screenings in person. These educational programs are in addition to the extensive extra-curricular activities that have been operating throughout the summer and fall for our middle school and high school students. To date, these programs have operated successfully and safely.
Consistent with my monthly communications to the Board of Education during the regular board meetings, we will begin to incrementally bring more students back to school for instruction. This process will begin the week of October 12th with our preschool students. Additional grade levels and buildings will be incrementally added over a four week period as per the following schedule:
October 12-16 Preschool
October 19-23 Kindergarten, Grade 7 (AMS), Grades 11-12 (AHS)
October 26-30 Grades 1-3, Grade 8 (AMS), Grades 9-10 (AHS)
November 2-6 Grades 4-6
This gradual reintroduction of students into the building will allow us to make sure our safety protocols are being implemented with fidelity in an effort to provide the safest environment possible for our students.
All students will attend school in a hybrid model, which means they will have three days of asynchronous work online and two full days at school per week. Students will be divided into two cohorts.
- Students in Cohort A will attend school in the building on Tuesday and Wednesday and will have online asynchronous work at home Thursday, Friday and Monday.
- Students in Cohort B will attend school in the building on Thursday and Friday and will have online asynchronous work at home Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
We will be making every effort to keep groups of students together throughout the day, however this will not be possible at Athens High School. The implementation of the block schedule at AHS will help to reduce the frequency of student movement throughout the building. The following expectations will be in place for all students:
- Wear masks throughout the day (unless there is a documented exemption)
- Most students will eat lunches in their classroom
- Maintain 6 feet of social distancing whenever possible
- Remain in homeroom "pods" or limited class switches throughout the day
- Elementary students will have one scheduled outdoor recess time a day with their homeroom. Students must maintain 6 feet of social distancing.
- Opportunities for indoor movement breaks near their seating area throughout the day.
In some instances, specific courses may remain completely online so as to limit travel between buildings for both students and teachers.
Please be aware that this plan is contingent upon final approval of all protocols by the Athens City-County Health Department. Additionally, we will continue to monitor COVID cases in the City of Athens and Athens County and will make adjustments to in-person instruction as necessary based on levels of community spread of the virus. To be clear, for a variety of reasons, we will not rely on the State of Ohio County Alert System for our final decision-making. We will be looking more closely at community spread of COVID beyond the university student population.
Our school nurses and building administrators will begin communicating specific schedules and protocols for families within the next week.
Lastly, this return to school in-person plan only applies to those students/families who have chosen to return to school when it is safe to do so. Any students registered to be online for the entire school year will remain in online instruction.
Thank you in advance for your patience as we work through the final details of this plan.