Southeastern intends to start fall with in-school, remote learning options

Southeastern Local Schools is working to provide students a safe and educational experience when school starts, the district’s superintendent said in reopening plans for the fall.

“A flexible learning approach is required as we navigate the changing needs and circumstances of our students,” said Superintendent David Shea. “We have developed a tiered system approach including three different learning plans to ensure we are prepared for a smooth continuation of learning throughout the coming school year.”

Shea said the district will use Plan A when school starts on Aug. 26, which is in-school instruction for all students. He said a remote learning option will also be offered for parents to sign up by Aug. 5.

For those that choose in-school, daily health assessments should be done before students go to school, physical distancing will be maintained when possible, transition schedules will be made to minimize the number of students and staff in common spaces such as hallways and cafeterias, and masks will be worn.

Those that choose the remote learning option will go to school on the same days and times as the traditional setting, and it will take place through Google Classroom.

Shea said students can change their chosen learning method at the end of the first semester.

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Learning Plan B – blended learning – would be used if the district must reduce the number of students attending in-school by half the number.

One group would go Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and the second group would go Tuesday and Thursday, Shea said. The groups, which would be assigned by odd and even house addresses, would then alternate days of the week each week. Students would also work remotely on the days they are not in-person.

Learning Plan C – remote learning – would be used if the district is directed to close. Each student would either continue or transition to remote learning.

One parent said she thinks that schools shouldn’t reopen and doesn’t want to send her two children back in-person.

“Adults do not do the social distancing; do we really think children will. And that goes for disinfecting also,” said Tina Halley, who has a third and eighth grader. “As far as masks, kids won’t keep them on. They will get headaches and stomachaches and you won’t know if it’s the virus or the mask.”

Another parent said she has put a lot of thought into sending her two children back, but decided on remote learning.

“Our family’s decision is to do virtual learning... mainly to keep others safe,” said Tiffany Keglor who has two children in elementary school. “My kids were involved in the decisions as well and they both decided that they’d prefer online.”

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Masks will be required for all staff and strongly recommended for students in grades 3-12 while in the building and on buses, Shea said. Students with pre-existing health issues or who may be considered high risk are strongly encouraged to wear a mask.

Keglor said her family is fine with the mask guidelines.

“We’re fine with masks... we have to not just for our own safety but for others,” she said.

Other precautions include: making hand sanitizer available throughout the buildings, sanitizing classroom surfaces at the end of each day, implementing hand washing and sanitizing practices and frequently cleaning and disinfecting high touch areas throughout the day. The district will also limit the sharing of supplies, make breakfast grab-and-go and may require lunch be eaten in classrooms.

The school board, administration and staff worked together using data from parent and student surveys, meetings with staff, and state and local guidelines to develop the reopening plan, Shea said.

“Our top priority is the health and safety of our students, staff and community,” Shea said. “We believe the presented plan is the best course of action and reflects best practices.”

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