Rowan-Salisbury Schools to review contingency planning Monday

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 21, 2020

SALISBURY — On Monday, working groups piecing together Rowan-Salisbury Schools contingency plans will update the Board of Education on the coming school year.

The groups have only existed for about a week and they are weighing in on areas where district will have to make COVID-19-related decisions for the upcoming school year. There are five working groups split into resources, operations, instruction, wellness and safety, as well as professional development. The groups are made up of district leadership. Monday’s school board meeting will be a virtual one that starts at 5 p.m. 

“A lot of what we’re doing is thinking through the three plans, A, B and C,” said Assistant Superintendent of  Transformation Andrew Smith.

Those plans were passed down by the state two weeks ago for how mandates may affect schools to operate. Summarized, Plan A would be a return to in-person instruction with social distancing, Plan B would allow classes to resume at 50% capacity and Plan C would be a full-scale return to remote learning.

Smith described the work of the groups as “digging into the weeds.” One issue to consider is how schools can adhere to social distancing while busing students. School buses filled to capacity have students sitting immediately next to, in front of and behind each other. Requiring 6 feet of distance between students in all directions would reduce the capacity of buses by more than half.

“Right now, we have more questions than we have answers,” Smith said. “We’re trying to lean on other districts.”

The guidelines from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services have been followed with a new set of information, more than 100 pages of extra information, for the district to sift through.

“It’s quite overwhelming,” Smith said, describing the workload of filtering through all the new documentation as mind numbing.

Smith said information is sometimes passed down from the state, but the level of detail of recent guidance and mandates is something schools are not used to seeing.

The district is administering a survey exploring how parents feel about a scalable option for fall, which would include a district-wide virtual K-8 option. Smith said if the board is amiable to that, the district would explore giving a way for parents to enroll their child in the alternate program.

To join Monday’s meeting, use the following link or dial in by phone using any of the following numbers: 312-626-6799, 929-205-6099, 301-715-8592, 346-248-7799, 669-900-6833  or  253-215-8782. The webinar identification number is 979-9510-7816.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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