Plans for CR-II school year unveiled

Angie Talken
Chillicothe News

The 2020-2021 school year will begin on Aug. 25 for students in the Chillicothe R-II School District, Superintendent Dan Wiebers said in a letter to parents late last week. However, if needed, the district has outlined four plans, should they be needed in response to COVID-19.

“My hopes are that students can attend classes in-person within the facilities of the district. With COVID-19 infection rates increasing across our country, it will be important to update our usual school plans to provide safety to our students, staff, and guests of the district,” Wiebers said.

Parents were asked in the letter, to complete a survey for each student. Parents were also sent the district’s re-entry plan with explanations on each of the four scenarios.

According to the letter to parents, “Each survey is student-specific and the data collected will allow the district to make decisions concerning instruction, food service and technology. In addition, every plan should be reviewed and updated when needed.”

Wiebers said last week, parents are asked to complete the survey(s) by July 31.

There are four scenarios for the return to school. All students attending, five days a week; blended learning, two-day rotation learning and distance learning. Wiebers noted that students and staff health is a top priority.

The first and preferred planned is a regular start, with all students attending school five full days a week.

Scenario B is a blended learning week, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, Friday attendance. Students would report to school four full days a week and engage in distance learning one day a week. Wiebers said the possible day off would be Wednesdays, to allow for deep cleaning, in addition to the cleaning steps staff will be taking on a regular basis.

The third plan, Scenario C would be two-day blended learning, where students would be divided into two groups and attend school two days a week, and do virtual learning the other days. In this scenario, according to the letter to parents, students would be divided into two groups by their last names. groups would report to school or other learning spaces two full days each week. “Group A with last names A-M attends school on Monday/Tuesday; Group B with last names N-Z attends school on Thursday/Friday. Wednesday will be virtual learning days for students and deep cleaning days in buildings,” the plan explains.

The last scenario, Scenario D would place all students on distance learning.

Wiebers said last week following the board of education meeting, that it is important to understand that not all school buildings may be on the same plan at the same time.

“It is important to note that not every building may be at the same stage of education,” Wiebers said. “If we have one school with a case or cases of COVID then they may be on virtual education, [but if] another building does not, then they may still be attending classes five days a week.”

With 1700 students in the district, Wiebers said that social distancing may not always be possible, and encouraged parents to read the district’s in-depth plans in line, which discusses, limiting visitors, hand washing, sanitizing stations, the need for parents to supply face coverings and transportation plans.

Parents need to supply face coverings for their students.

Due to the number of students depending on bus transportation, the district is unable to seat all students six feet apart. Wiebers noted the district is continuing to monitor guidance as it relates to bus transportation.

According to the letter to parents, masks will be required on buses and assigned seating utilized. “However, per public health guidance, exceptions may be permitted for children with special needs. In the spirit of helping our families who rely the most on transportation, please sign up for transportation this year only if you plan on using it consistently. Buses will be routinely cleaned and sanitized, including between routes.”

Parents can choose to only use distance learning, however, Wiebers noted they hope to have as many students in physical classes as possible. He noted there are circumstances which may prevent a parent from wanting their child to be in class in person.

As stated in the re-entry plan, “If a child has a circumstance where distance learning is required, even though the district is in session, the parents will need to notify the district of this decision. Distanced, or virtual instruction, will be required for one semester and the district must be notified by July 31. Students choosing Distance Learning, will not be allowed to participate in MSHSAA sanctioned activities, as well as Chillicothe R-II activities.”

Once parents choose distance learning for their child(ren), it is for the semester. Those students will still be responsible for following a schedule and completing all work that students must complete in-person.

“Hold harmless for grading is no longer in effect for distance learning. Students must complete all work assigned through the virtual instructor. Assignments are time-bound and must be completed within the time allotted,” the district’s plan states. “Students who attend through distance learning are required to follow the hourly middle school or high school bell schedule, checking into class at the designated time. Elementary schools will provide schedules for distance learning activities.”

Wiebers said parents have been given a list of symptoms, and each day they should make sure they evaluate their students before sending them to school.

The re-entry plan states that if a child shows symptoms the child should be kept at home until they are symptom-free for 48 hours, or a confirmation of a negative COVID test has been acquired.

If a child tests positive for COVID, parents should notify the school building immediately.

“Any student who tests positive for COVID-19 or indicates that they have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last two weeks will need to contact Livingston County Health Center and follow their guidance for isolation and quarantine. Any student required to isolate or quarantine per Livingston County Health Center can only report back to school once they are asymptomatic and after they provide medical documentation to their school administrator (who will share this with the school nurse) that stipulates that they are cleared to return to school.”

Wiebers said he is excited to return to school, though it will be unlike any year he has experienced in 33 years as an educator.

According to a statement from the district, staff, administrators, the board of education and parents will work together through these times.

“The Chillicothe R-2 School District is committed to preparing every student for a successful future--regardless of learning environment--to ensure that students develop into lifelong, self-directed learners and to empower students to achieve college and career success. As we prepare to return to school, we will focus on strengthening relationships, providing equitable learning, and supporting the overall well-being of our students, parents, school staff and community.”

Parents can complete the survey at this link: