SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Savannah-Chatham County School Board is discussing possible options for returning back to in-person learning. A phased re-entry was proposed that would create a hybrid learning model.
The hybrid model would mean kids would be divided into cohorts for combined learning that is face-to-face and virtual. Cohort A would attend face-to-face Monday and Tuesday and will be virtual Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Cohort B would attend face-to-face Thursday and Friday and be virtual Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
“We’re working toward a graduated approach to the phase-in return to in-person learning to ensure this is done in a safe manner,” Associate Superintendent of Secondary Schools, Bernadette Ball-Oliver said.
Right now, students are in phase one which is virtual learning. Phase two will bring back Pre-K through second grade once daily COVID-19 case numbers decrease. Students and parents will sign an understanding of safety and behavior expectations. This phase would also open up some extracurricular activities. Phase three will include 3rd-6th graders and 9th graders. Phase four will have all students back in-person.
Virtual learning will continue for students whose family elects not to return to face-to-face learning at this time.
Students with disabilities will follow the same phased plan except the plan would have them do half days in the morning two days out of the week. Board members shared how they’d like to move forward.
“The response that we’re just following the data and we’re looking at it and we’ll just kind of see when everything feels right is not adequate to us as board members and to our community. The CDC has guidelines. We can go in right now and reopen,” District 1 Board Member, Julie Wade said.
“We’re talking about people’s lives. I don’t give a hoot if a kid falls back two months in reading if it meant that I kept that kid alive,” District 3 Board Member, Cornelia Hall said.
Age-appropriate facial coverings will be required for all students who go back to school. There will be staggered times for lunch pick up, recess, and restroom breaks.
More than a dozen parents voiced their opinions to the school board on how they’re feeling. They say their children are having a hard time with internet connectivity and an even harder time adjusting to the curriculum.
“I am watching my daughter struggle every day,” Parent, Melinda Spisso said.
“Open up these schools. Open up these schools for all of us. Open up these schools for the parents. Open up these schools for the children,” Parent, Meghan Holbrook said.
However, some want to see virtual learning continue until experts say it’s safe to return to the classroom.
“Our children are resilient. People always say that about kids. We can be resilient too. I’m an old dog but I’m learning new tricks and I’m learning so much from this,” Parent, Erina Tandy said.
The school staff is expected to return on October 12 to prepare for face-to-face teaching. The board will continue the in-person learning discussion at a meeting next Wednesday.