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School districts release learning plans for school year

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Soon, school will be back in session, but whether a student will return to in-person classes or learn from virtual lessons in their own homes will vary depending on each family’s choice.

On July 20, schools and school districts across the West St. Louis County area released their learning plans for the upcoming 2020-2021 academic year.

These plans included multiple learning formats for students, as well as other safety provisions, with the ultimate goal of continuing school amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Rockwood School District

Back in March 2020, the Rockwood School district closed its doors to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 amongst students, staff members and district families.

Since then, district representatives worked with entities like the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and regional healthcare experts to create a re-opening plan for the upcoming semester.

“In considering the return to our schools and classrooms, we must balance the risk of transmission of COVID-19 with the negative impact of school closure upon the social, emotional, behavioral and physical health of our children,” Superintendent Dr. Mark Miles said in an official announcement on July 20.

The Rockwood 2020 Fall Return-to-School Plan provides two learning plan options for students for the start of the 2020 fall semester: 

  • Option 1: A reduced-capacity educational option where students attend classes at school two days per week.

The Rockwood School District will offer a two-day, reduced-capacity educational model for the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. Students will be divided in half alphabetically, and each group will attend school in-person two days per week: one half on Tuesday/Thursday, and the other half on Wednesday/Friday. All students will learn remotely on the other three days of the school week. School buildings will be closed on Mondays and, instead, students will meet virtually with their instructors through ZOOM. 

  • Option 2: At-home education through an online curriculum.

Students that opt for the online-only option will be enrolled in Rockwood Online coursework. In should be noted that Rockwood Online differs significantly from the district’s Alternative Learning Plan (ALP)n which was previously launched in March following the emergency school closures. Rockwood Online will facilitate regular interaction between students and teachers, in addition to continuing small-group assignments, individual conferencing and intervention support.

According to the official Rockwood School District website, families will receive communication in the coming weeks asking them to indicate their educational preference for each child.

Any changes to academic instructional choices will be permitted at each quarter.

Additional details will be provided by building administrators on a case-by-case basis or as new information from government/health entities comes to light.

The first day of classes is scheduled for Aug. 24. All students and staff members meeting in-person will be required to wear masks or facial coverings unless otherwise excluded due to a medical condition. Social distancing, along with other safety precautions, will also be enforced.

For more information or an in-depth look of each option, visit rsdmo.org.

Parkway School District

Also on July 20, the Parkway School District announced it would also provide its families with two “return to learn” options for starting the 2020-2021 academic year.

Students can opt to learn in person or via an online-only model.

“We believe we have tried our best to meet, as we start this school year, an element of face-to-face, an element of virtual and an element of choice, which we believe gives parents the opportunity to look at their unique needs,” Superintendent Dr. Keith Marty said in an video announcement on July 20.

  • Option 1: In-person learning (Plan A or B) at school either five or two days per week, depending on the plan being implemented and the level of illness in the community. Plan A would be a full, in-person schedule reminiscent of a more traditional school schedule, but with additional health precautions enforced. This model would be implemented in case of a minimal COVID-19 spread. This option also includes a Plan C, which is a completely virtual model and would be implemented only in the event of a complete school/district closure.

At this time, the Parkway School District plans to open school on Aug. 24 using Learning Plan B, which was designed to account for a moderate community spread. Under this model, student attendance is reduced to 50% capacity in order to facilitate social distancing.

Students will attend school in-person two days per week on a part-time schedule. On Monday, all students attend school online together with live instruction from teachers. Then, Group A will attend school in-person on Tuesday/Thursday and Group B will attend on Wednesday/Friday. On the other two days when students are not in-person, learning will take place remotely.

The district will notify families of how students will be assigned to and days of attendance so that families can have additional information before choosing their option.

Additional health precautions will be implemented, and all students and staff members will wear masks while attending in-person sessions. 

  • Option 2 is a full-time online plan that will be conducted through the new Parkway Virtual Campus. Students who choose this option will attend school 100% online during the first semester.

Parkway families will also receive an email notification asking them to choose a learning plan per student. The deadline for families to submit their preferred learning plan option is July 26.

At the end of the first semester, parents will be allowed to switch learning options. Planning formats and schedules will differ between high, middle and elementary school levels.

Families are encouraged to reach out to their school’s principal with questions or visit parkwayschools.net to learn more about each plan.

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