By HOLLY VIERS
GATE CITY — The Scott County School Board has already chosen an onsite plan to reopen schools this fall, but what happens if things change on the state level?
Virginia is currently in Phase 3 of its reopening plan, which allows in-person instruction for all students, with physical distancing measures in place. But if the state reverts to Phase 2 or Phase 1, the school system has backup plans ready to comply with state guidance.
The current plan
As reported last week, the school board on Monday voted 4-1 to adopt an onsite learning plan, in which students will attend school in person on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, with Wednesday as a remote learning and school cleaning day. Families also have the option to choose an all-virtual learning alternative for their students.
Based on survey results compiled this month, more than half of Scott County parents favored the onsite learning plan, while just 13% preferred an online-only model. A quarter of parents preferred a hybrid plan, while 8% said they would not send their children back to school.
If Virginia reverts to Phase 2
Under state guidance, schools can offer limited in-person instruction to preschool through third grade and English Learner students in Phase 2. In this scenario, Scott County schools would follow a hybrid learning plan:
• Pre-K through third grade students and English Learner students would follow the onsite learning plan described above.
• Students in grades four through 12 would follow a remote learning plan.
If Virginia reverts to Phase 1
Remote learning would be the dominant method of instruction in this phase, according to state guidelines.
School divisions could provide in-person instruction for students with disabilities in extended school year services and school year special education services, including private placements, with physical distancing.
In Phase 1, Scott County would transition to fully online learning. Teachers would use online platforms such as Virtual Virginia and Google Classroom, with grades given on all assignments. A feeding program would also be implemented.
Were there other alternatives?
In addition to the onsite, hybrid and remote learning plans, the school board on Monday also considered another plan called “AA/BB.” Under this plan, half of the students (Group A) would attend school on Monday and Tuesday, while the other half (Group B) would attend school Thursday and Friday.
Students would learn virtually on the days they did not attend school in person, with Wednesday as a remote learning day for both groups.
Other aspects of this plan mirror the onsite learning plan.
The school board also discussed the possibility of pursuing ionization technology in classrooms to help clear the air of viruses and other germs.
“It fits inside the ductwork,” said Superintendent John Ferguson. “As the return air comes back through, it gives off an electrical charge, which in turn kills all types of virus-type cells that would be pulled back through the return through that electrical charge.”
Assistant Superintendent Jason Smith added that school officials are also looking at a product for buses that could be sprayed onto the seats and could have up to 30 days of effectiveness for killing viruses.