With schools having to weigh different options and consider how to manage a new school year under coronavirus guidelines, the Greenfield Exempted Village School District is preparing to welcome back students next month within the framework of its own reopening plan.
One thing superintendent Quincey Gray emphasized at July’s school board meeting was that the reopening plan is fluid, and at any time the district is prepared to shift from its planned regular schedule to blended or online learning should the pandemic-related guidelines call for that.
“We are excited to welcome our students back for the start of the school year,” Gray said. “Patience, flexibility and compassion are important assets as we proceed on this journey together to provide the best educational experience that we can.”
While the reopening plan initially stated that face coverings were encouraged, but not required for students, a declaration from the state last week regarding mandatory face coverings changed that a little. Gray outlined that change in a recent all-call update stating, essentially, that students will be required to wear face coverings only when they are not able to socially distance.
Masks and/or face shields will be provided to students, Gray said, or parents can provide the face covering for their child.
Staff are working to clear out classrooms down to the bare essentials, which will leave more room for spreading out desks so that students can be safely distanced from one another. Additionally, Gray said the layout of classrooms will be the more traditional method of rows. When there are tables instead of desks, there will be more tables, fewer children at the tables, and dividers between the students. Students will also have assigned seating, which is something Gray said is done anyway, in the classrooms and on buses.
An additional three routes have been added to the district bus routes to accommodate the need for students to be safely spaced apart from each other on the bus. Students from the same household will be seated together.
Gray said the transportation office will be contacting all those riding the bus this year for confirmation of student(s) riding buses and pick-up/drop-off times. Parents and guardians can also call the transportation office at 937-981-2620 with any questions.
As outlined in the reopening plan, there are two options for parents and guardians for the new school year — students returning to school as usual or an online option.
Information sessions are planned for next month.
The first one is Wednesday, Aug. 5 at 6 p.m. in the high school gym. The session is for any parent/guardian no matter what option has been considered for their student(s). It will include a review of the district reopening plan, updates and attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions. Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner will be there to answer questions. Attendees will be walked through the district website so they know where to access needed information throughout the school year.
A second session is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 12 at 6 p.m. in the gym and is solely for those opting for the district’s online option. Parents/guardians can pick up their student(s) device, pay the $25 insurance fee, and learn about how to log in, use the site and support their children in the program. Parents/guardians will also be able to get answers to questions they may have about the online program.
Previously, the deadline to apply for the online program was the end of July, but Gray said that has been extended to Aug. 14. The extension allows for those interested, or just not sure which option is best for their student(s), to attend both sessions if they wish, and then make a decision.
Open houses for grades K-8 will be virtual. This year’s freshman orientation will also be virtual. Information on the open houses and freshman orientation is expected to be available before Aug. 20. Check the individual buildings’ Facebook pages and the district website for information.
Under the current guidelines, preschool students will attend two mornings or afternoons a week versus the typical four mornings or afternoons per week. At any point, that may change, Gray said. If there are changes, parents/guardians of preschool students will be contacted. Information on a preschool open house is also to come.
The Before and After School Program in Greenfield will be available this year, Gray said. Applications for the program will be available in the Greenfield Elementary office beginning Aug. 3.
Gray said staff have been working diligently on the school’s reopening. The week of Aug. 17 staff will participate in various trainings to help them be more prepared for the school year.
With things changing every day, Gray said it is important for the parents/guardians of student(s) participating in extracurricular activities to stay up to date by checking the district website often. Additionally, it is important to make sure of the following: the district needs to have a current phone number for its students/parents/guardians; there should be two good back-up plans in place for someone to pick up a student from school should a student become ill; and final forms must be completed as soon as possible.
School offices will be open beginning Monday, Aug. 3. Reach them at: Buckskin Elementary, 937-981-2673; Greenfield Elementary, 937-981-3241; Rainsboro Elementary, 937-365-1271; Greenfield Middle School, 937-981-2197; and McClain High School, 931-981-7731.
For more information and updates, visit the district website at greenfield.k12.oh.us and the district’s Facebook page. Building specific information and updates are also available on each building’s Facebook page. You can also call the central office at 937-981-2152.
Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the Greenfield Exempted Village School District.