At the regular meeting of the Cabell County Board of Education Thursday, July 16, Superintendent Ryan Saxe and his leadership team presented the district’s reopening strategy, officially named the “Cabell County Schools Back to School 2020 Plan.”
“Our back to school plan serves as a link between how school ended last year with remote learning to how to how we hope to resume school as normally as possible, when the time is right,” says Superintendent Saxe. “Whether September 8th is the appropriate time for five day a week instruction in schools for all students is still unknown. However, we hope our comprehensive plan allows Cabell County families the flexibility they desire to make appropriate decisions for their children while ensuring the school district continues to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, American Academy of Pediatrics, West Virginia Department of Education School Entry and Recovery Guidance Toolkit, and the West Virginia Governor's “Comeback Plan” and Executive Orders.”
Since schools shifted to a Remote Learning model of instruction in March, Superintendent Saxe says the school district has had a unified focus. He says, “from the Board Room to the classroom,” the primary considerations of his administration have been:
- The health, well-being and academic progress of students
- The health and well-being of staff
The Cabell County Schools Back to School 2020 plan includes options for full virtual learning for students in grades K-12; a blended learning model where students attend school two days a week on a Monday/Tuesday or Wednesday/Thursday schedule with the other three days of at home remote learning; and the option of a five day a week traditional model of at-school learning.
“While these three options will provide families flexibility, it is also important to note that due to the volatility of COVID-19 spread, changing guidelines from health officials, requirements from state level decisions and executive orders, the timeliness of when each of these options will fully be available is unknown,” adds Superintendent Saxe.
To address this uncertainty, district administrators have developed a phased approach they hope will allow them to safely reopen schools. Leaders will monitor current guidance to determine the appropriate phase for operation. For example, if, at the time of school opening, it is deemed the district can safely operate under Phase 2, then leaders will continually monitor the situation to decide when the next phase, Phase 3, can be safely implemented.
- Phase 1: All students will engage in instruction via Virtual School Instruction or Remote Learning.
- Phase 2: All students will engage in instruction via Virtual School Instruction or Blended Learning (two days of at-school learning with three days of remote instruction at home).
- Phase 3: All students will engage in instruction via Virtual School Instruction, Blended Learning (two days of at-school learning with three days of remote instruction at home), or five days of traditional instruction at school.
“Our goal is to provide Cabell County students with the best educational experience possible while offering a variety of back to school options that allow us to help slow the transmission of COVID-19,” says Superintendent Saxe. “Again, our most important consideration is the safety of our students and staff. We know there will be changing guidance and many challenges and questions along the way. None of us really have all the answers. However, if the last several months has shown us anything certain, it is that our community, parents, students, and staff will work together as a unified team to do whatever it takes to get our Cabell County Schools family through this pandemic safely. The acts of caring I have personally witnessed give me great hope there are much brighter days ahead.”
The complete “Cabell County Schools Back to School 2020 Plan” is available on the district’s website at www.cabellschools.com. On the website you’ll find enrollment options for parents and students, information about safety precautions, transportation guidelines, and information about athletics and extracurricular or cocurricular activities.
Here are several important highlights of the Cabell County Schools plan:
- Families have choices about how their child returns to learning.
- These choices include in-school options, blended options and full time virtual school.
- All students will be provided a device through the District’s 1:1 technology plan.
- Face coverings will be required on school buses and in school.
- Health authorities have advised the best way to slow the transmission of COVID-19 in a school setting is to require all staff and students in grades 3-12 to wear face coverings throughout the day when social distancing can’t be maintained.
- All students riding a school bus will be expected to wear a face covering; face masks will be provided on every school bus.
- Face masks will be provided daily to all students and staff attending in school instruction. Pre-K through 2nd grade students will be strongly encouraged to wear face coverings when social distancing is not able to be maintained. Face masks and clear face shields will be provided to Pre-K – 2nd grade students each day.
- Students in 3rd – 12th grade will be required to wear a face covering when social distancing is not able to be maintained. Face masks will be provided each day for students attending in school learning.
- All staff will be expected to wear a face covering when social distancing is not able to be maintained. All staff will be provided face masks and a clear plastic face shield.
- Students or staff with disabilities or medical conditions that prevent a face covering may also use a clear plastic shield or another reasonable accommodation.
- Portable desk shields will be provided to all students.
- Student and staff attendance policies will be more flexible.
- Students and staff will be screened each day of in-school instruction.
- Employees will continue to serve as positive role models for students by demonstrating and enforcing safety measures such as proper mask wearing and social distancing practices.
- The Board and district expect all staff to rigorously abide by health and safety policies.
- Additional school custodians will be hired to ensure increased sanitation occurs.
- A Chief Health Officer will be employed to provide continued guidance, support, and recommendations.
- Chief Health Officer will work as a liaison with the Cabell County Health Department and will assist in contact tracing when needed.
- Every school will have a dedicated nurse.
- Each school will have a Mental Health Crisis Team that will provide a continuum of services for all students enrolled at schools or learning remotely or virtually.
As a result of Governor Justice’s Executive Order requiring school start dates be pushed to September 8, the Cabell County Schools calendar will be amended to reflect the following changes:
- Teacher start date: August 25
- Student start date: September 8
- Thanksgiving week Remote Learning days: November 23, 24, 25
- Thanksgiving holiday: November 26
- No school: November 27
- December Holiday Break: December 24 – January 1
- Spring Break Remote Learning days: March 22, 23, 24, 25
- No school: March 26
- Seniors last day: May 18
- Student end date: May 28
- Teacher end date: June 1