Mid-Del Schools to open with alternating A/B schedule

A student reads during summer school classes at Mid-Del Schools. (Photo by Stacey Boyer)

By Jeff Harrison
Managing Editor

Mid-Del Schools is tweaking its reopening plans.

The district will begin the school year with a hybrid model that includes in-person instruction and remote learning. Students will follow an alternating A/B schedule. Half of the students will receive in-person instruction on Monday and Tuesday, and the other half will do so on Thursday and Friday. The groups will alternate in-person instruction on Wednesdays.

The school board approved a revised plan today during a special virtual meeting.

Superintendent Rick Cobb said the A/B schedule will allow for better social distancing in the classroom, buses and cafeteria, while having as much face-to-face instruction as possible.

“It allows us to enhance our safety precautions while still seeing our students every week,” Cobb said.

Schools will follow the A/B schedule until at least Sept. 25.  It will provide each student with 12 days of in-person instruction and 12 days of remote instruction.

The first day of school has been moved back to Aug. 24 to provide additional time to prepare for the remote learning.

For the first two weeks of school, teachers and students will learn how to use the remote learning software programs, Canvas and Seesaw, as well as daily instruction. The district will provide devices for students who need them.

School safety protocols

District officials will reassess the school instruction plan by Sept. 11 based on the rate of new positive cases of COVID-19 in Oklahoma County. Cobb said they will follow school safety protocols similar to those issued by the Oklahoma State Department of Education. The State Board of Education did not vote to adopt the protocols as a statewide mandate.

The district’s plan includes four, color-coded stages for normal, low, moderate and high risk levels.

Green (fewer than 1.43 new positive cases per day per 100,000 residents)

  • In-person instruction for all students every day.
  • Recommend all students and staff wear a mask at all times in school, except during meals.
  • Schools will limit visitors and schoolwide assemblies.

Yellow (Between 1.43 and 14.39 cases per day)

  • In-person instruction for all students every day.
  • Require all students and staff wear a mask at all times in school facilities, except during meals.
  • Schools will not allow visitors to enter the building past the office area.
  • Schools will not hold schoolwide assemblies.

Orange (More than 14.39 cases per day)

  • Schools will provide in-person and remote learning on an alternating A/B schedule.
  • Require all students and staff wear a mask at all times in school facilities, except during meals.
  • Schools will not allow visitors to enter the building past the office area.
  • Schools will not hold schoolwide assemblies.

Red (More than 14.39 cases per day, plus additional criteria based on hospital space)

  • Schools will provide instruction everyday remotely.
  • Require all students and staff wear a mask at all times in school facilities, except during meals.

Cobb said based on the current levels, the district will begin the year in the Orange stage with the A/B schedule. As of July 23, Oklahoma County had 19.38 new cases per 100,000 people. That has increased over the past month with 14.04 new cases on July 8 and 17.34 on July 17.

“I would want to see Oklahoma County move back to Yellow for two consecutive weeks and really show a consistent downward trend for us to consider moving back to full face-to-face instruction,” Cobb said.

The school board approved the district’s Return-to-School plan at the July 13 meeting. The original plan included options for traditional in-person instruction, and online virtual instruction through Mid-Del Virtual Academy.

Students in virtual learning will not be impacted by changes approved by the board on July 31.

Split survey

The district surveyed staff and parents about how they would prefer to start the school year with options for face-to-face instruction with safety measures, an alternating A/B schedule, and fully-remote learning. Neither staff nor parents showed a clear preference. About 3,000 parents responded, with the most (39.5%) choosing face-to-face instruction. About 1,200 staff responded, with most (36.9%) choosing face-to-face instruction. The A/B schedule was the least popular for parents and second for staff.

“I think nearly every parent and every teacher would prefer that we start face-to-face five days a week, there are just different degrees of feelings about whether or not it’s safe and the right thing to do,” Cobb said.

Cobb said he wants the district to remain flexible but flipping between levels would be disruptive for everyone.

School board members asked questions about internet access for remote learning, sanitation and safety procedures, open campus, and how the students will be divided in A/B schedules.

Cobb said the district considered putting WiFi hotspots near apartments in the district, but realized it would not be efficient or cost effective. Students would be able to access the district’s network if they were physically near the school sites.

“If students don’t have internet at home, they may be able to go to any of our Mid-Del sites and be outside and have access to our network,” he said.

Cobb said they believe masks and social distancing are the most effective way to limit the spread of the virus at school. The district has also adopted cleaning procedures for school buildings.

The school district will divide the groups of A/B scheduled alphabetically. Cobb said they will make accommodations for families with multiple students in the district.

Cobb said they have not considered making changes to the open campus schedule, which allows students to leave during open periods. He said the district could consider it later if needed.

The district’s revised plan passed by a 3-0 vote. Board members Silvya Kirk and Nathan McGuire abstained. The board unanimously approved a revised calendar that included the first day on Aug. 24.

 

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