Williamson County Schools Superintendent Jason Golden spelled out some specifics for Board of Education members on how the district is planning for the start of the 2020-21 school year.
During the board’s work session Thursday night, Golden presented members with approaches to any of three different scenarios that could unfold come August as a result of the coronavirus outbreak that closed school buildings in early March.
There’s a best-case scenario in which school campuses can be open, a worst-case one in which school buildings must remain closed to start the year, and something in between that’s a sort of hybrid or blend of on campus and off, Golden explained.
“Our goal and our plan is for us to be on campus this fall on day one,” he said. “If the social-distancing restrictions from the health department make that impossible, we are going to take the next step to find a staggered schedule [for a blend of on- and off-campus], and then a final step if restrictions are such that we just flat can’t have school on campus at all.”
Golden said efforts have been afoot since the get-go of schools being closed to look ahead to the other side of summer. Plans have been mapped out not only from those on district staff, but will also include administrators, teachers and others in the community at large.
“We put a large planning team together,” Golden explained. “It’s been a really great work and, oh my, we have hit so much detail with it.
“Our entire district is being represented in this planning process that we’ve been going through internally,” he added. “Once we get a draft put together, we’re going to meet with all our administrators and with the student advisory council, parent representatives and business representatives.”
Regardless of which of three scenarios plays out this fall, Golden said the following instructional norms will be adhered to:
- Teachers will have daily instructional interaction with their students.
- All students will have access to a Chromebook.
- All grade levels will have an online learning management system to serve as a platform for learning and communication.
- All grade levels will use a variety of digital learning tools to support grade-level learning in a digital environment.
Golden pointed out one of the glitches regarding remote learning is the percentage of families in Williamson County who either have no internet access at all or have it but service is often unreliable.
In a telephone survey to more than 38,000 families in the district, 2% of respondents said they have no internet service available and 9% said they have Wi-Fi but it’s not to be counted on most of the time.
“As we work through this summer, we’re going to address that with families,” Golden said.
“I’m encouraged by where we are with this. That has been a really big issue at the state level. We still have a little work to do in Williamson County, but we’re going to make sure we do everything we can to fill in that gap for families.”
The Board of Education meets remotely Monday at 6:30 p.m. for its regular monthly meeting, and Golden will participate in a Facebook Live session Wednesday at 11:30 a.m.