Before seeking approval from the Board of Education Monday night for the Franklin Special School District’s return-to-school plan, Director of Schools David Snowden added a rather strongly worded disclaimer.
When it comes to the reopening of schools in August amidst the coronavirus pandemic, he essentially said there is no template to follow and, therefore, no plan is perfect. Board members voted unanimously to approve what is called the Return to Learn plan, along with Snowden’s caveat.
“What we need to be mindful of is, this pandemic is always changing and changing our environment,” Snowden said to board members and others at the meeting held via livestream and at Johnson Elementary School. “This plan has to be fluid so that we can make changes to address whatever situation comes toward us.
"It’s not a perfect plan, as I’ve said from the beginning. Every plan at this phase is an imperfect plan because it cannot address every single item that may occur and some we may not know about at this point in some cases. So let’s be mindful that changes will need to take place in the plan as we move forward during the year.”
Board members also voted unanimously to approve the 2020-21 budget that will have no tax increase.
The Return to Learn plan was picked over thoroughly at a work session held Thursday, and there was little added discussion at Monday’s meeting. The framework places emphasis on most students returning to classrooms while also acknowledging those families who choose to keep their children home for virtual learning.
Families can expect to receive an email Tuesday asking them to choose which learning path — in person or virtual — they prefer and letting the district know by Friday.
“I know that doesn’t give a lot of time,” Snowden said, “but I know people have been thinking about it, and hopefully once they see that agreement and have gone through the plan related to virtual learning, they’ll be able to make that decision by this Friday.”
The Return to Learn plan presents four major components — teaching and learning, students, staff and family support, professional learning and operational plans for transportation, food service, plant operation and physical health — and scenarios for both students attending in person and those learning virtually.
Teachers who have chosen to teach through the online method should be prepared, Snowden said.
“Our teachers have been going through training,” he said. “I’m not saying they’re perfectly trained, and I do believe that we are in much better shape to teach virtually now than we were at the extended closure in March. Again, it will be a work in progress, … but we do think with the training and support, our teachers will be up to the task.”
Opening day for the 2020-21 school year is Friday, Aug. 7.