Please read below to see weekly updates shared with Southern Hancock families about the upcoming 2020-21 school year.
This message was shared with our families on Friday, May 29, 2020:
This is our weekly update on the district’s plans for the 2020-21 school year. You will receive this email each Friday afternoon during summer break with important updates on decisions by the district’s reopening task force or new guidance from the state or federal government on how schools should reopen.
- As mentioned last week, there are a number of potential outcomes the district is preparing for. School may start as normal with no restrictions, with some restrictions and/or social distancing, or continue to be closed. At this time, the district is preparing for all three scenarios. However, we intend to provide multiple options for families while following any mandates or restrictions. These options potentially include:
- A full-day option for students to return to school as “normal”
- A half-day option for secondary students where some class periods may occur online and others may occur in the building.
- A completely online curriculum (virtual school) where students are not required to come to our building at all
Guidance from the governor will help determine which of these options will be available for 2020-21. Our objective is to make all three available to all families if we are permitted to do so.
Next week’s update will contain an interest survey about the virtual school. I want to stress that this program will be structured differently than the E-Learning programming your student received for the last two months of the 2019-20 school year. With additional time to prepare, we have the ability to craft a fully-developed and carefully curated online curriculum. We ask any family who may have an interest in the virtual school to complete the survey so our administrators can begin to make staffing decisions and plan for potential social distancing mandates.
- Thank you for participating in our E-Learning feedback survey. In addition to responses from parents and students, we also solicited feedback from Southern Hancock teachers. Here are a few common themes throughout the three groups:
- Consistent procedures for collecting virtual attendance
- Support systems for students who are behind or routinely not turning in work
- Increased focus on quality Professional Development opportunities for staff and/or an improvement in the quality of online instruction
- Consistent procedures district-wide for delivering assignments to students, due dates, and grading practices.
These four areas will be our main focus for improving our digital curriculum for 2020-2021.
- In the interest of student safety, we are making a change to our requirements for student immunizations. The district will require students to be up to date with all Indiana state-required vaccinations by August 3, 2020. We have moved this deadline to the start of the school in order to protect students from diseases that may weaken their immune system. Please contact your child's pediatrician or the Hancock County Health Department for an appointment if your child needs a required vaccination. This document can help you determine which vaccines your child will need for the upcoming school year.
- Our district has put additional safety protections and protocols in place for staff in our buildings during the summer. All staff are currently wearing masks or face coverings while in our buildings. All staff members are subject to a temperature and symptom check at our building’s entrances. The district has purchased additional cleaning equipment to fully disinfect each building on a daily basis. High-traffic and high-touch areas will be cleaned and disinfected multiple times per day.
- Safety protocols for the upcoming school year are still being determined. We expect the governor’s July announcement to provide additional guidance on how we should proceed. As we shared last week, the CDC shared initial guidance for how schools should reopen. The document includes, among other things, recommendations that students wear masks while at school and social distancing measures be put in place in classrooms, common areas like cafeterias, gymnasiums, and media centers, and on school buses. We do not have formal plans in place for these situations yet, though they are being evaluated. As I am sure you can imagine, social distancing requirements on buses would cause significant changes to our transportation plan. Mr. Martin and his transportation team are creating multiple plans for what bus routes may look like in August. I ask for your flexibility and patience in this area while we work through some potentially difficult logistical hurdles.
- Our partners at the YMCA will begin running their summer day camp and childcare program at Sugar Creek Elementary on Monday, June 1. Camp will run through Friday, July 24. If you are interested in this child care option, register at this link.
We will provide another update on Friday, June 5. Have a great weekend!
-Dr. Lisa Lantrip
This message was shared with our families on Friday, May 22, 2020:
As we begin summer break, our administrative team is turning our attention to what school may look like in August. We’ll be sharing new information with you every Friday on our plans and any new guidance released about how schools should safely reopen.
We expect Governor Holcomb to make an announcement about the 2020-21 school year sometime around the start of July. We will know more about how our school year will take shape after his plans are announced. In the meantime, our team is creating plans for a variety of potential situations.
To help make the most appropriate decisions for all stakeholders, we have created a task force to facilitate the reopening of our schools. The task force is composed of teachers, staff members, administrators, parents, and community members. Our task force is working with current guidance and Indiana’s Back on Track plan to best determine how school will begin in 2020-21.
We realize some families may be hesitant to send their children back to school due to health concerns. We are in the initial stages of launching a full-time online curriculum (virtual school) for families who wish to keep their students home to mitigate the risk for their child or family. We believe it is critical to offer a variety of educational opportunities for families based on the health of their students and other family members. We will share additional information about this program and its structure soon. We ask for your help in completing this feedback survey about how E-Learning went for your family over the past two months. This will help in the creation of a quality online curriculum.
Our goal is to welcome students back to school on August 3 while being as safe as possible. We realize that guidelines or restrictions put in place by Governor Holcomb may force school to take a few different forms. For those families who wish to return to school, we are creating plans for a variety of situations for August 3 and beyond:
- School begins in-person with no restrictions. While this may be unlikely, we still must plan for this should the governor choose to let school go on as scheduled if Indiana reaches Stage 5 of the Back on Track plan.
- School begins in-person with some restrictions on gathering sizes and/or social distancing. This may include an element where E-Learning continues for some at risk students and/or staff. Other students may attend school part-time and complete E-Learning part-time. A portion of our student body may still complete a normal school day in our buildings.
- Governor Holcomb does not permit schools to open and all students continue with E-Learning full-time to begin the school year.
New This Week:
The CDC released initial guidance on how schools should reopen based on conditions in their respective areas. (The link should automatically take you to page 45 of the document. The entire document covers a multitude of organizations.) Beginning with Step 2 of the document, where schools are permitted to re-open with enhanced distancing measures, here are a few key challenges from these guidelines currently being evaluated by our task force:
- Enhanced cleaning procedures to ensure all surfaces are disinfected regularly. Frequently-used materials and surfaces should be disinfected after each use.
- All staff and students should be checked daily for symptoms and temperature
- Establish protocols for what happens in a building if a positive case of COVID-19 is confirmed in a student, staff member, or family member of a student or staff member.
As I’m sure you are aware, guidance, protocols, and best practices change almost daily. We will continue to adjust our plans based on those changes. While August 3 is a long way off and many things will change between now and then, our task force will continue to form plans based on the best information we have at the time. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through this together.
-Dr. Lisa Lantrip