Graham schools to offer in-person, online learning options

Graham Local Schools will begin the fall with learning in-person, but will also provide an online learning option, the district’s incoming superintendent said.

“We must prepare for the year in the best way possible to ensure a safe and healthy environment for our students and staff,” said incoming Superintendent Brad Silvus. “In order to make this happen, we have to put recommended strategies in place to reduce the risk of our students and our dedicated staff becoming ill.”

Families will have two options to choose from – in-person with safety protocols, which includes remote learning if the district must close, or online learning using the Graham Online Academy (GOA).

If the district does have to shift to remote learning, Google Classroom will be utilized.

Those that choose the online learning option, the curriculum will be self-paced and guided by a Graham teacher.

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“Students participating in this option will be using GOA, an online curriculum and platform designed by an outside company that specializes in virtual learning,” Silvus said.

Families will have to commit to their learning choice for the first semester and will have the option to change in December.

Julia McLean, who has three children in the district - a fourth, eighth and tenth grader - said she is “very excited” about the reopening plans.

“My kids have all had such a hard time when school closed. We are planning on using the in-person learning options,” said McLean. “Kids should be with their peers, especially with an age gap like I have. It’s better for their mental health and their social development.”

All staff and visitors will be required to wear face coverings, and students in grades 3-12 will be required to wear face coverings when outside of the learning environment such as arrival and dismissal, hallways, lockers, offices, cafeterias and restrooms, Silvus said. All students will be required to wear face coverings while on buses, at bus stops with groups and during transition times.

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Students in grades PK-2 are recommended to wear face coverings, but there may be certain situations such as working with others that it may be required, Silvus said.

Students will be able to remove their face covering while at their desk in the classroom, during outside recess with at least six-foot distance and when socially distanced.

McLean said she is comfortable with the district’s mask guidelines.

“Several of my kids were dreading using their mask throughout the whole day, but now also feel better that there are times when they can remove,” she said.

Other plans include requiring health wellness checks before going to school, installing Plexiglas barriers in some areas, making hand sanitizer dispensers available, increasing sanitizing and disinfecting in buildings and on buses, and adding water bottle filling systems to drinking fountains.

Silvus said the school board will vote in August on his proposal to change the start date to Tuesday, Sept. 8.