SCCPSS board passes delayed start date, virtual learning plan

Education

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Board members of the Savannah-Chatham County School System (SCCPSS) have approved the start date and virtual learning plan for the new year.

The board was unanimous with a 9 to 0 vote.

Members delayed the first day of school by two weeks, moving it from Wednesday, Aug. 5, to Wednesday, Aug. 19.

Officials say the delay will help ensure the safety of students and staff, providing critical time for teachers and others to prepare for the new year and new safety procedures. Some board members believe there should have been more than one option to vote on.

“There should be an option allowed for parents who want to send their children to school and where staff members who want to go back in person can,” District 7 School Board Member, Michael Johnson said.

At this time, virtual learning will remain in place until Labor Day on Monday, Sept. 7. SCCPSS Superintendent Ann Levett made it clear that it doesn’t guarantee face-to-face learning will resume after that date. She said officials will check the data regularly to determine when it’s safe to get back in the classroom in person.

“This is a life and death situation and I know none of us wants one person to die because we made this decision that we thought was best and it was not,” District 3 School Board Member, Cornelia Hall said.

It’s been more than 120 days since the district has seen any sense of normalcy so board members want a structured school day even if it’s online.

“We have got to replicate the school in online learning and it must be mandatory. We can’t have prerecorded videos or links to assignments as a substitute for teaching,” District 1 School Board Member, Julie Wade said.

Meanwhile, Levett said schools are still being outfitted for social distance learning.

A poll by SCCPSS shows a majority of select family and staff members would prefer getting back into the classroom. View those results below.

Family members:

  • 41% (4,145) preferred in-person learning every day
  • 24% (2,437) preferred a hybrid model
  • 24% (2,422) preferred full-time, at-home learning
  • 10% (1,037) undecided

Staff members:

  • 34% (1,085) preferred in-person learning every day
  • 27% (858) preferred a hybrid model
  • 26% (831) preferred full-time, at-home learning
  • 14% (438) undecided

The board also approved modifications to the school calendar:

  • Offers 170 days of instruction
  • Provides 12 days of pre-planning and training before the first day of instruction
  • Begins the school year on Wednesday, August 19, 2020
  • Begins the school year in a virtual “E-Learning” Districtwide model
  • Adds two staff planning days for teachers at the end of the school year
  • Includes the strategic use of Districtwide “E-Learning Days” on the November 3, 2020 Election Day, at the start of Second Semester, and after St. Patrick’s Day

Board discussion before vote:

Full informal session:

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