MCDONOUGH – During Henry County Schools’ study session Monday, Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis presented additional details in a plan to start the 2020-2021 school year.
Currently, the district is planning to open school buildings and district facilities to resume on-campus learning on Aug. 3. The district will align new health and safety protocols with the Georgia’s Path to Recovery for K-12 Schools, published by the Georgia Department of Education in partnership with the Georgia Department of Public Health. New protocols include additional hand sanitization stations, restroom use protocols, face-mask-optional practices, and enhanced cleaning processes. Additional health and safety protocols and plans regarding cafeteria use, playground use, and large-group courses (i.e. fine arts, physical education, and JROTC) that will accompany the on-campus environment will be outlined and shared via the district website on July 8.
In concert with the on-time opening of schools, HCS will also offer any family with a student starting in kindergarten through 12th grade the option of registering for and starting the school year with remote learning in lieu of returning to campus for in-person instruction. Families interested in this option will be asked to complete a Remote Learning Registration process. Remote Learning Registration will be available on the district website, along with local school websites, July 8-17. Participating in remote learning will require students and families to commit to regular and prompt participation in designated digital instruction time and will incorporate the board adopted policies for attendance, grade reporting and code of conduct.
“We recognize that many families and students are eager to return to school campuses and return to in-person instruction,” Davis said. “We also recognize that there will be families who are not quite ready for this next step and would like to continue remote learning instead. We are preparing to provide both options for families so that students can have access to the best learning environment for them as we start back in a new school year.”
In order to prepare for essential services and operations for the school year, an anonymous preliminary preference survey will be sent to parents the week of June 15 so parents can indicate their preferred option — on-site or remote learning. This survey is not to lock families into an instructional choice at this time.
District officials will provide routine communication throughout the summer to keep families informed of technical, instructional, and operational decisions to help families make the best choice for their child to start the 2020-21 school year. Families will ultimately decide how they want their child to start the school year during a window of July 8-17. If someone does not register for the remote learning option during that time, the child will automatically be enrolled for on-campus instruction to start the year.
District officials said the HCS website is a primary source of information for those looking for answers to commonly asked questions.
In the event that an executive order from the state dictates school buildings are to be closed for the 2020-21 school year, HCS will utilize remote learning for all students starting on Aug. 3. The district has already begun enhancing district technical, instructional and operational details that reflect the perspectives shared by the more than 5,000 stakeholders who participated in the remote learning survey at the close of the last school year.
These improvements include designing a plan for K-2 device access, securing more Wi-Fi access for students needing more stable broadband internet access, improving the efficiency of our broken device repair process, and providing families with more support and assistance as they partner with their child’s teacher and facilitate learning at home.
In addition to the scenarios above, the Board of Education took action to expand the already existing Impact Academy to a K-12 blended online program. This option for students is a more permanent commitment to enhanced virtual learning. Impact Academy blends an on-line curriculum, virtual instruction and weekly in-person class meetings to provide students and families a unique environment to continue learning.
Families and students interested in learning more about Impact Academy and how to register can visit their website at www.henry.k12.ga.us/ia or the Henry County Schools homepage.
“As a public institution in Henry County, we feel responsible to be open to the youth in our community and we are preparing to make on-campus learning available for students and families who feel ready to return,” Davis said.
For more information on Henry County Schools, visit www.henry.k12.ga.us.