SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Savannah-Chatham County Board of Public Education on Wednesday approved a hybrid learning plan, allowing some students back in the classroom in the coming weeks.
The plan allows those who select the hybrid model to meet in person two days a week.
Students will either be at the school on Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday, with Wednesdays being virtual days for all. Officials say this will also allow the opportunity for deep cleaning.
Students learning in person will be required to maintain social distance and wear age-appropriate masks or face shields unless eating or drinking. Everyone will be screened before entering school buildings.
The basics of the schedule, which passed in a 8-1 vote by the board, are as follows:
- Phase one: Virtual
- Phase two: Limited hybrid
- Sept. 28 – Staff members return
- Oct. 5 – Least Independent Learners, PreK – 2, 6 & first-time grade 9 cohorts return for combined learning
- Phase three: Expanded hybrid
- Oct. 26 – Tentative start date
- Encompass grades 3 – 5, 7, 8, and 10 – 12
Dr. Tonia Howard-Hall of District 8 was the sole board member to vote against the resolution. She said COVID-19 transmission has not slowed enough to allow for any in-person learning.
A survey sponsored by the school district concluded that 53 percent of parents and guardians supported a modified version of in-person learning. Some parents and board members worry families voted more than once and may have skewed the results.
“It doesn’t help anything and you’re only wasting district resources,” said District 6 Board Member Dr. Davis Bringman. “Please try to be part of the solution and not a part of the problem.”
Other board members asked the district to make sure staff members who do not want to teach in-person also have an option to do virtually. So far, 180 employees have expressed concerns.
“I don’t want us to coerce anyone to go back into the classroom… teacher or staff…. who does not want to do so because they fear for their safety,” said District 3 Board Member Cornelia Hall.
District 1 Board Member Julie Wade, at times getting emotional, said that while she couldn’t speak on behalf of all students, she believes “we’ve got to get our children back in schools.”
Some parents say they are still pushing for the district to allow students to return to school for in-person learning five days a week.
“It is not acceptable,” said mother Mary Dudley-Northey of the board’s decision. “[We’re] not going to stop what we’re doing.”
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