Return to Headlines

Topics Our Re-Opening Task Force Is Currently Trying to Tackle

Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene, Asheville City Schools. 

As you may have seen, Governor Cooper and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released interim guidance about districts reopening in the fall.  While we certainly appreciate their concerted efforts, I wanted to let you know that the plan, while a huge step in the right direction, still leaves us with many unknowns.  

As I shared, our district has established a Reopening Task Force made up of elementary, middle and high school representatives as well as district leadership.  They’re meeting each week to work through potential barriers we could face when school returns and, most importantly, ensure we will be able to keep our students and staff safe. 

 

Start of the 2020-2021 School Year: 

From our discussion, the Curriculum and Instruction Department has drafted four scenarios that could be carried out for the start of the 2020-2021 school year.  Again, at this point, these are all just possibilities, and our final plan may be a hybrid of two or more listed options. 

 

 

Format

Logistics

Option 1

All face-to-face

  • Return to school at full capacity with staff wearing masks and all students, staff and faculty members practicing proper social distancing 

Option 2

Alternating Remote/

On-site Days

  • Staff is onsite and practicing proper safety measures.  This includes but would not be limited to staff remaining in their classrooms as much as possible and wearing masks whenever they interacted with other staff. 
  • No meetings would take place involving more than 10 people. 
  • Pre-K - 12th Grade: 
    • Classes would be split, with half of our students meeting in person one day and the other half meeting in person on the next day.  On the days when a student was not meeting in person, they would utilize at-home instruction. Fridays would be completely remote for all students. 
    • Classes would be split, with half of our students meeting in person one week and the other half meeting in person the next week.  On the weeks when a student was not meeting in person, they would utilize at-home instruction.
  • Lessons would be of a hybrid model.  Both asynchronous and synchronous lessons would be given and recorded for access outside of the regularly scheduled school day. 

Option 3

Pre-K -5th Grade on site and 6th -12th Grade remotely

  • Staff is onsite and practicing proper safety measures.  This includes but would not be limited to staff remaining in their classrooms as much as possible and wearing masks whenever they interacted with other staff. 
  • No meetings would take place involving more than 10 people.
  • Pre-K - 5th Grade instruction would occur in person on Asheville City Schools campuses. 
  • 6th - 12th Graders would continue to access at-home learning using Google classroom and CANVAS lessons. 

Option 4

All Remote

  • Staff is onsite and practicing proper safety measures.  This includes but would not be limited to staff remaining in their classrooms as much as possible and wearing masks whenever they interacted with other staff. 
  • No meetings would take place involving more than 10 people.
  • All lessons would be done remotely and would combine both asynchronous and synchronous instruction.  Understanding that many of our older students care for younger siblings or other family members, lessons would be recorded for access outside of the regularly scheduled school day. 

 

The Governor’s Office and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services NCDHHS, in consultation with the North Carolina State Board of Education and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, will determine how schools can reopen safely for the 2020-21 school year based on the state’s COVID-19 metrics by July 1st, 2020.  Like school districts across the state, Asheville City Schools is busy preparing for the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year but also anxiously awaiting further guidance. 

 

School Calendar: 

Next year’s school calendar is one of the other items we’ve been looking at.  The North Carolina General Assembly has amended 2020-2021 calendars for all public school districts across the state.  According to Senate Bill 704, all districts must: 

  • Have a school calendar that remains at 215 days total. 
  • Increase the number of instructional hours their students receive by five days.  This means all calendars must now consist of either 1,055 hours or 190 days. 
  • Ensure their new calendar includes five remote instructional days.  Currently, remote instruction days cannot begin prior to August 24th. 
  • Name August 17, 2020 as their first day of school. 
  • End on or before June 11, 2021. 

Of course, Asheville City Schools is included in this new mandate; therefore, we’ve altered our original 2020-2021 calendar that was approved by the Board of Education this past February.  After hearing from representatives from each of our schools, the district put together an amended calendar that will go before the Asheville City Board of Education for final approval on Tuesday, June 30th. 

Additional Items: 

Additional considerations we’re currently working through include but are not limited to: 

  • Transportation:  Each route could take two to three runs to complete, and buses would need to be cleaned between each run.  Therefore, questions we’re currently asking is how early would routes need to begin, and how late would each route run? 
  • Child Nutrition:  We are still unclear as to whether or not our School Nutrition Staff will be able to utilize the cafeteria.  If not, students would eat both breakfast and lunch in their classrooms each day. 
  • Maintenance:  Asheville City Schools has currently purchased 50,000 masks for students and staff to begin school in fall 2020.  However, because every school district across the country is too facing the lasting impacts of COVID-19, there could be difficulty in locating additional personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies as we need to replenish our supplies. 
  • Safety:  Because several of our campuses contain multiple entrances or several hallways each with their own unique set of doors, we’re examining how we can reduce the number of entries and cut down on the amount of times a door needs to be touched while still keeping our students and staff members safe. 

Again, please know that this is not an exhaustive list but will give you an idea as to the types of scenarios our staff are currently working through.  Please know that my commitment is to keep you as informed as possible as more is known. 

 

Thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools.