First detailed plans for Charles City virtual reopening revealed
As local schools make the adjustment to start the 2020-21 academic year in a virtual environment, many questions remain unanswered on the feasibility of services and instruction. Tuesday night’s Charles City School Board meeting provided the groundwork and resemblance of its opening steps.
Charles City Superintendent of Schools Dalphine Joppy spoke about the first set of plans orchestrated by her staff in kicking off the new school year. After rehashing the steps that led to the decision of the school system virtually back in July, more details emerged at the meeting on a tentative structure for students and parents to become adjusted in the new conditions.
Director of Transportation and School Operations Jerome Tyler opened the presentation with the school’s first plans of providing meals to students. Monday meals would consist of breakfast from 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m., with a breakfast/lunch combination from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. The brunch combination would continue Tuesday-Thursday from 11 a.m-1:30 p.m. As part of the brunch combination, students would receive lunch for the day as well as a prepackaged breakfast for the following day. On Fridays, only lunch will be offered from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Meal distribution will take place in the back of the high school in the bus loop near the gymnasium, similar to what took place at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. For parents and students who are unable to pick up the meals, a plan is in place where bus drivers would distribute the food items. Tyler added that bags to preserve the heat and cold of the meals would be provided. He added that a survey will go out to determine how many families would need the delivery service.
As far as transportation, only one bus is scheduled to be in regular use to begin the academic year. While Magnet Schools Appomattox Regional Governor School and Maggie Walker Governor’s School will start virtually, Bridging Communities Career and Technical Center are currently on a hybrid schedule as of this publishing. Tyler commented that classes would be held in person on Mondays and Wednesdays, with transportation provided for second year students in the morning and first year students in the afternoon.
Director of Teaching, Learning, and Accountability Todd Perelli followed with a graph of what typical days for both the elementary school and high school student would look like.
At the elementary level, Monday would be used for distance learning, downloading of assignments, turning in of assignments, and additional help from instructors to individual students. Tuesday through Fridays will see core classes from 9-11 a.m. (alternating with reading social studies on Tuesday and Thursdays, with Math and Science on Wednesdays and Fridays) with “brain breaks” during that time period. An additional break would happen between 11:30 a.m.-12 p.m., with individual instruction, recess, and lunch from 12-1 p.m. Independent practice would take place between 1-3 p.m., with specialized and elective classes (music, art) taking place from 3-3:45 p.m.
The instruction would live from 9 a.m.-11 a.m., with accessibility also being live between 1-3 p.m. Perelli commented that the 3-3:45 p.m. elective classes could be either live or pre-recorded.
For high school students, Monday would be similar to the elementary level with distance learning, uploading, and downloading assignments for that day. Students would follow an even/odd day schedule Tuesday through Friday, with Blocks 1, 3, 5 (odd days) and Blocks 2, 4, 6 (even days) being instructed live by teachers from 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. prior to a lunch break. After lunch, Block 7 would be another instruction period, with Block 8 being “Pride Time” for students, concluding the day at 2:45 p.m.
Perelli commented that a lot of professional development with teachers will take place, with one of the main emphasis to incorporate learning material missed at the end of the last academic school year into the current year’s cycle. Parents will be provided a toolkit to assist with their child’s education and will offer options for instruction through video calling conferences and taped instructional clips.
At the recommendation made by District 1 school board representative Joy Harris, school staff will develop a guide table for individual grade levels. An overall detailed book is expected to be distributed to parents according to Joppy. She also commented that the plan is also undergoing continuous changes due to the nature of the situation.
“This is going to take a community effort,” said At-Large member Preston Adkins. “This is the year we are going to really need the parents help to make this work.
“As neighbors, we need to make sure we check up on them,” he added. “We are dealing with the unknown and it will take a Herculean effort to make sure that the students have what they need to succeed.”
Teachers will have the option to instruct from home or within the classroom walls. A drive-thru open house will take place on Aug. 27 from 3-6 p.m. on the high school campus that will allow students to pick up computers, meet teachers, receive schedules, and provide additional information for parents.