Lakota Schools announced four different plans for the 2020-21 academic year on Monday, including a year-round virtual option available to families who do not want to send their children to school amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Superintendent Matthew Miller presented the four plans at Lakota's Board of Education work meeting Monday night, announcing that “Plan A” will go into effect and bring students into classrooms this August.
“We want our students back in school,” said Miller in a press release Monday.
In this plan, all students will return to school with “added safety precautions at all levels,” including social distancing of six feet, three feet between desks in classrooms and a face mask requirement for students and faculty whenever they are less than six feet apart from each other.
“We have spoken to health officials at Butler County, as well as an infectious disease expert from UC West Chester,” Miller said. “Based on their recommendations, we will require face masks to be worn when students and staff are less than six feet apart.”
Students will not need to wear masks if they are six feet apart or during “mask breaks” given throughout the day.
Students in grades 7-12 will follow a block schedule every day to limit the number of students in school facilities. All cafeterias will operate at 50% capacity.
In this plan, students in grades K-6 will attend school every day with six feet of physical distancing between desks. To do this, all learning spaces will be used as classrooms with 15 to 18 students in each classroom. Plan B also includes a requirement to wear masks or face coverings.
“Innovation Hubs,” gyms and other learning spaces will also be used as classrooms, Miller said. Students will remain in their classrooms with teachers “rotating as needed.”
Junior and high school students will attend class every other day and follow daily block schedules in Plan B with six feet of distancing in classrooms and a limited number of transitions. Secondary students not in school will complete online assignments. Students will be split alphabetically to determine which day they attend school, and all K-6 students will eat lunch in their classrooms.
Preschool students will attend school four days a week in both plans, and state guidelines mandate a reduced class size, pared down to nine from 16.
Both plans include “additional safety precautions” recommended by the CDC, state and county health departments. Those include hand sanitizer stations at every entrance and in classrooms plus cleaning supplies in each classroom to sanitize work areas throughout the day.
Busing with both plans allows for two students wearing masks per seat. If Plan B must be implemented, the district will follow guidelines from local and state officials.
Plan C and Virtual Learning Option
Plan C, “Connected,” is the district’s remote learning education plan that would be carried out if schools were closed as they were in the spring.
“Our teachers and curriculum department have been working on building out remote learning to be a much more robust experience than we saw during the fourth quarter,” said Miller.
“If we have to shift from one plan to another,” said Miller, “we will give our teachers and parents a few days to plan.” This mirrors the spring launch of remote learning following the district’s spring break when teachers used the first two days for professional development and planning with students returning on the third day.
The district's curriculum department is also working with a team of teachers to develop the "Lakota Virtual Learning Option," a 100% online curriculum for K-12 students of families concerned with sending their child back into the classroom.
Students who have health concerns and have a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 will be "given priority placement." In the VLP, which families will be asked to commit to a full semester, students will have a Lakota teacher check in with them and ask questions.
Three information sessions will be held in July for families who are interested in the VLP.
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