Area school districts are working to finalize start dates and adopt plans to safely teach students as the school year approaches.
Like Winfield and Arkansas City, most area school districts are choosing to offer a combination of traditional in-class instruction and remote learning to minimize possible COVID-19 exposure. Also like Winfield and Ark City, the smaller districts are pushing back the first day of class, although most are starting before Labor Day.
School boards for Cedar Vale, Central of Burden, Dexter, Oxford, South Haven and Udall are working to finalize start dates and put the final touches on educational programs.
Cedar Vale students will start classes on Aug. 26.
High school principle Jackie Burdette said the district is still in the planning stages for how to offer classes. She expects for a final plan to be in place sometime next week.
“The options would be to attend on-site, as well as an option for a remote learning model,” she said.
Burdette said the remote learning would be an interactive situation where students would be able to fully participate in each class.
She said the district is also looking for options to assist students who may need more individualized instruction.
“It’s been a challenge,” she said. “But educators usually rise to the challenges and do a great job.”
Central of Burden
Central of Burden Superintendent Rick Shaffer said that USD 462 would resume classes on Aug. 24.
Parents and students can choose between face-to-face instruction and remote learning.
Shaffer said classes will be Livestreamed to student residences for those who opt out of traditional schooling.
“We’re going to livestream every classroom, right on down to preschool and kindergarten,” he said.
Shaffer said the pandemic had completely changed instruction and he doubts that schools would ever be able to return to traditional methods.
“School as you and I knew it ended on March 10,” he said. “It will never be the same again.”
Dexter schools are set to reopen on Sept. 8.
Registration was held Tuesday, and students and parents were presented with several learning options. Superintendent KB Criss said the district would implement a three-level education plan.
Level one would be business as usual, with increased safety measures. Criss said if an outbreak were to occur, the district would move to the second level, which will have students attending classes in smaller groups, with a limited number of days each week.
When students are not in the classroom, he said they will make use of remote learning, which will require Internet access.
“We will work with each family individually and do our best to make this successful,” he said.
Criss said if a massive outbreak should occur, the district would move to a third level, which will move all students to the remote learning program.
“We can’t predict the future, but we will be better prepared to handle this situation if it occurs again,” he said.
Criss said that classes are starting later this year to allow for completion of an ongoing construction project. Students will have a longer school day to make up for the lost time.
Classes will begin at 7:30 a.m. and end at 4 p.m.
Cathi Wilson, superintendent of USD 358 in Oxford, said students would return to school on Sept. 2.
According to information on the school website, students will have the option to participate in traditional on-site learning, full-time virtual learning, or a hybrid model that incorporates both on-site and virtual learning.
Once an instructional choice has been made, students will be required to remain in that program until the end of the quarter. She said a move to a different educational model would require administrative approval.
South Haven students will return to class on Sept. 1.
In a special letter to parents, superintendent Dorsey Burgess said that three modes of instruction would be offered: traditional on-site; a hybrid of remote and on-site learning; and full-remote learning.
Dorsey also said all staff members, students and visitors to school facilities would be required to wear masks.
“Students will supply their own mask/face covering,” he said. “Each facility will have disposable masks available should someone forget to bring one.”
Udall will begin its school year on Aug. 27.
School superintendent Dale Adams said the district would offer the traditional class experience, as well as remote learning.
“The remote learning is a live interactive remote where they log in and are present during the class,” he said.