Letter from the Superintendent regarding DSC Change to Level 3 on Oct. 5, 2020
On August 10th, DSC administration recommended that schools delay opening by 2-weeks until August 25th and deliver in-person instruction using a hybrid model to begin the school year. At that point in time, we were not confident that schools opening at 100% capacity would be able to stay open relative to social distancing and contact tracing recommendations. We have now observed schools opening at the state and local level for well over a month and our own schools now being open for 3-weeks. As expected, there have been challenges associated with opening schools during a pandemic.
With that said, our Reentry Plan states, “The DSC will make every attempt to move to level 3, where 100% of students who selected the in-person model will be in school at the same time, as soon as possible.”
As we assess our current hybrid model, we have observed school districts both at the state and local level work with their respective health departments to stay open. To date, we have not seen entire school districts shut down and only a handful of schools have closed for up to 2-weeks at a time. This is significant as one of our major concerns 5-weeks ago was whether we would be able to stay open due to contact tracing expectations. We were also concerned as to how our students and staff would respond to PPE requirements. As you recall, whether to wear or not wear a mask dominated conversation throughout much of the summer. To date, we have been very pleased with how our students and staff have responded to PPE requirements. We haven’t had any issues with students and staff wearing masks and taking steps to maintain social distancing whenever possible.
Our teachers have put their best foot forward to deliver instruction in two different formats, remote and in-person. We had widespread teacher participation in professional development during the summer to expand upon instructional strategies used in remote and hybrid environments. In addition, the instructional day was shortened by 35-minutes to allow for additional teacher preparation time. After observing our teachers work in this dual environment for the last 3-weeks, I am concerned as to whether we can sustain this pace much longer. I believe we need to create additional teacher preparation time. Finally, we have received feedback from the DSC school community indicating there are child care concerns that have been exacerbated with children not in school every day.
Per the previously mentioned considerations, DSC families that have selected in-person instruction will send students to campus 4-days per week beginning on Monday, October 5th.
All students, both in-person and remote, will receive instruction on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Fridays. All students will work independently, via a traditional eLearning day, on Wednesdays due to the teaching constraints of preparing and providing instruction in two different instructional models (remote and in-person) or in a remote-only model. A move to a 4-day in-person instructional model brings us closer to having all students on-campus. The 4-day model also allows for increased teacher preparation time and eases some of the difficulties in arranging for child care. Social distancing is still a concern, but with approximately 30% of students opting for full remote status, class sizes, for the most part, are smaller than normal which will allow continued efforts to socially distance students and staff as much as possible.
Some may ask, why not wait until the 9-weeks comes to an end? The DSC Reentry Plan states that a 2-week notice will be given when moving to a different level. In this instance, the desire to bring more students back to school for those that have chosen in-person instruction outweighs the logistical challenges of balancing class sizes and adjusting the number of in-person and/or remote teachers that may be needed when families change their mind. We had already planned to allow families to make changes at the 9-week mark. This move pushes that date forward by 3-weeks. This will be the only time during the fall semester that families will be able to change models due to the class balancing that occurs when moves are made and the possibility of needing to adjust the number of in-person and/or remote teachers within the district. Realistically, speaking it will take 3-weeks to make this move.
We’ll then start balancing classes and making staff adjustments, so we are ready to accept in-person students 4-days per week on Monday, October 5th.
We look forward to the time when all students and teachers are back in schools. While not perfect, this is a continued step in that direction. The feedback from students, parents, faculty, staff and the Duneland community are valued and appreciated. Thank you for your support.
Dr. Chip Pettit, Superintendent
DSC Learning Model (In-Person/Remote) Transition Request Process
During online registration, families had the opportunity to select the desired learning model for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. It was noted in the DSC Reentry Plan that students and families would be able to transition between the two models each quarter (9 weeks) while the pandemic is active (level 2-4). This model allowed families the flexibility to make personal decisions in accordance with their beliefs about COVID-19.
Since the DSC will be moving to Level 3 of our plan on October 5th, the transition request process that was going to take place at the end of the 9-weeks will go into effect now. If you are interested in switching your student(s) from in-person to remote or from remote to in-person on October 5th, please complete the Google form linked below:
However, if, you wish for your child to stay in his/her current learning model, then you do not need to complete the form. Families with more than one child must complete a separate form for each child.
The window for completing this form is September 15th – September 23rd. Requested changes will take effect on Monday, October 5th.
Based on the number of changes that take place, particularly at the elementary level, some students will receive teacher/class changes. All schedule changes will be shared by your student’s respective school.
Selections will be in effect until January 19, 2021 (end of 1st semester).
Questions should be directed to your student’s school.