RUSTBURG — Campbell County Public Schools students will be back in the classroom five days per week next fall, but remote options will remain available.
At the Campbell County School Board meeting Monday night, Clayton Stanley, assistant superintendent for instruction, presented the division’s fall back to school plan to board members for discussion.
During the current school year, most elementary school students have been attending school in-person four days per week, with secondary students attending school in-person two days per week. About 20% of the division’s student body chose to participate in its remote learning option this year, Campbell County Online Learning Academy (CCOLA).
Stanley said it is the division’s “hope and desire” that students will return for in-person learning, but an online option will continue to be available for those who prefer it.
CCOLA’s elementary school students will attend at least two hours of synchronous, or live, lessons daily, as well as completing independent tasks throughout the day. Secondary students participating in CCOLA will complete their work independently and asynchronously, or without live instruction, through the online learning platforms Edgenuity and Canvas. Secondary students will be connected with a facilitator at their base school who will provide support and monitor their progress.
If remote students are not attending their synchronous lessons, completing their work or achieving academically, Stanley said they will be required to return to their base schools for in-person learning. A registration form for CCOLA will be live beginning Friday and close May 7, and families will have one opportunity to switch from remote to in-person during the school year.
The division has not specified plans for continuing CCOLA past the upcoming school year.
“It might not be what they expect, their kid may not be as successful as they’d like them to be, and we think it’s reasonable to give them one opportunity to come back to the buildings,” Stanley said.
At this point, based on previous interest surveys, Stanley said the division thinks about 15% of students will enroll in CCOLA for the upcoming school year.
For those who choose in-person learning, the division is planning to fully reopen, offering in-person learning five days per week.
“I know there’s still a lot of challenges and a lot of things that could come up, but it’s just nice to sit in the meeting here tonight and listen to so many positive things going on in Campbell County Schools — first and foremost getting back to school this fall,” school board member Mark Epperson said. “I mean, that’s so encouraging. I know there’s challenges and hurdles ahead of us, but it’s really nice to hear that.”
Stanley said the division will be adjusting its health and safety protocols for the upcoming school year, including lowering the physical distancing requirement from six feet to three feet and allowing two students per seat, as opposed to one, on school buses.
Some mitigation strategies will stay the same next year, he said. Students and staff will be required to wear masks at all times, with “mask breaks” permitted when appropriate. Additional cleaning and sanitizing practices will continue during the next school year, he said.
Campbell County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Johnson added the division is exploring the possibility of moving away from its temperature screening procedures as early as the end of this school year.
During the current school year, students and staff have had their temperatures checked upon arrival at school buildings daily. At Monday’s school board meeting, Johnson said school officials have conducted more than 470,000 temperature checks during the school year. Of those, he said, only 29 resulted in a failing temperature.
“We are expending a lot of resources and time and energy doing temperature checks every day, and I don’t think it’s warranted,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not recommend temperature checks for reopening school facilities last fall, but the division, like many others, decided to include them in their mitigation strategies to add another level of comfort to teachers, principals, staff, students and families. Johnson said he now is hearing from principals that their staffs feel time and resources could be better used to serve students.
Stanley said the division will continue to encourage families to provide their own transportation to students if they are able, as school bus transportation will be limited to two students per seat.
In order to provide times for additional bus routes with students seated one to a seat, the division also adjusted the school day for elementary schools to run 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 8 a.m. to 2:10 p.m. for secondary schools.
In the upcoming school year, schedules will return to normal, Stanley said, with Altavista and Brookneal elementary schools on an 8:10 a.m. to 3 p.m. schedule, the remaining elementary schools on an 8:50 a.m. to 3:35 p.m. schedule and secondary schools on an 8:05 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. schedule.
In order to aid with credit recovering and to help make up for lost in-person learning time, the division’s secondary schools will switch from their traditional seven yearlong classes to a four-by-four clock schedule.
While they have not released finalized plans for the upcoming school year, Lynchburg City Schools as well as the public school divisions in Bedford, Amherst and Nelson counties also have said they are planning to offer five days per week of in-person learning in the fall, as well as some sort of remote learning option.