Henryetta school will be starting Aug. 24 instead of the Aug. 13 original starting time. Teachers will report Aug. 10.
That decision was made Monday morning at a lengthy special school board meeting that dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic issue.
Superintendent Dwayne Noble said the two options discussed by principals last week are still in effect.
Through the first option, students will be meeting with teachers according to their class schedules online with teachers being present in their classrooms to guide the courses.
“Teachers will be responsible for the education for their students. They will be giving information to the students through Google Meet, and assignments given out through Google Classroom,” he said.
“This will have one on one instruction through Google Meet by a certified teacher. The teachers will be on campus connected online and they will be here every day in the classroom.” In the event a student is found to be struggling with a particular course, they will have the option to go to the school and sit down with the teacher.
The second option, HPS Virtual Academy, has instruction accessed through an online curriculum. A certified teacher will be assigned to each subject area to monitor students progress and provide assistance as needed.
Even though school will start Aug. 24, teachers will still be reporting for work Aug. 10. “That will given them time to get acquainted with the programs and work out all the bugs. Elementary principal Jayme Matlock said there will be scenarios presented giving teachers an opportunity to deal with issues they might encounter during the online courses.
Noble said this is not to be confused with the distance learning effort made when school closed down last March. “That was a band-aid,” he said. “This will have the teachers in their classrooms and students will be reporting online according to their schedules. They will see different teachers.
Matlock said principals are facing issues in trying to determine the numbers of students for each class. She said she could project second grade with 100 students but currently has enrollment information for 60. “I don’t know how many kids to put in each class. The whole thing with COVID is about numbers. If I don’t know how many kids are going to be in a class how do you know how many desks you need and how to space them?”
High school principal Kelly Furer said trying to keep the social distance plan in place is going to be extremely difficult. “We were going to paint the hallways telling students which direction they would be going in. That will mean we have to have a lot of teachers in the hallways to keep up with it.”
The problem with feeding students also would have to be overcome. One plan would call for teachers to be in their classrooms at 7:30 and students getting a “grab and go” breakfast they would then eat in the classroom. She pointed out distancing would require students to have lunch in the cafeteria, old gymnasium and spread out under the pavilion.
Another issue is busing students to school.
Transportation director Rick Enis said there has ben talk about splitting up routes to accommodate fewer students per bus and how to seat them. “We have to require masks on the buses even if we have half a route on there,” he said. Ends said the buses would be sanitized after every trip to and from the school.
“I’m worried about losing 30 percent of our students to EPIC, said board member Pam Bealko. If students enroll in EPIC, we will lose the state aid money.” She pointed out the Henryetta online program will be providing students with more education than they could get through EPIC and the students would be face to face with a teacher.
Board member David Bullard said the virtual program would still let sports happen and reduce the possibility of school closing due to the virus contracted through other teams. “If we play a game Friday night and find out Tuesday someone we played against tested positive, we don’t have as many students that could be infected. It will let us see how it spreads through Friday night athletics in the state.”
The superintendent stressed that parents need to contact the school in the coming weeks and let them know what their decision is.