Rogersville City School administrators announced during a conference call on Thursday morning that they will begin the school year in the ‘red’ phase.
This decision came after the county saw the largest spike in new COVID-19 cases since the pandemic crisis began in March.
Just between Friday, July 24 and Monday, July27, 62 new cases were reported in the county.
School beginning Aug. 17
RCS administrators participated in a conference call on Thursday morning to give parents and community members a chance to hear the latest reopening plan and ask questions.
Numerous people participated, with over 100 people dialed in at one point during the call.
RCS’s newly appointed superintendent, J.T. Stroder, noted that the school will still begin instruction on Aug. 17 and in the ‘red’ phase.
“In grades kindergarten through second, we will have group called our ‘A’ group who comes to school on Monday and Tuesday—half of the students,” he said. “Then, our ‘B’ group, the other half, will come to school on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday’s, we will notify you if we need your student in attendance. Fridays will be used as a day for review and for teachers to post lessons and catch up with work that is happening online.”
The ‘red’ phase will look a bit different for grades three through eight, as they will all be completely online.
“We will provide in-class opportunities for students who do not have internet access, but those students will need to contact the school and let us know,” he said.
Principal Rhonda Winstead also noted that most of the upcoming parent meetings will be held virtually rather than in-person.
Teachers will reach out to individual families to notify them of their scheduled classroom virtual open house.
Different from other districts
“We are really trying to craft a format of schooling that is a little different than what some other districts are doing,” he said. “What we’re really wanting to accomplish is to have our teachers teach in-class—with students in class—while, at the same time, teaching students who might be attending online at home in real time with the rest of the class.
He also noted that he has received numerous questions on what happens if the online student isn’t able to be online at the exact time the session is being live-streamed.
“We’re asking teachers to post lessons online,” Stroder said. “The teacher will record the lesson the day that they are teaching it. They will post any supporting material online, such as worksheets that go along with the lesson. Students and parents will then be able to access that information through a secure website later in the evening.”
For students whose classes will be in-person during the ‘red’ phase, Stroder noted that they will be asked to enter the building only through select entrances.
Upon entering, their temperature will be taken. If cleared, the student will be asked to go straight to their homeroom class.
“We’re trying to limit access and movement within the building as much as possible,” Stroder said. “If the student has a temperature, we will take them on the outside of the building to an area of quarantine that we’ve set up. We will then contact parents and ask them to pick the child up. At that point, we’ll explain to the parent what the protocol is for getting them back into school.”
Teachers will also monitor students’ temperatures throughout the day.
“If we have a student who comes up with a temperature during the day, we will quarantine that class, send the class home, and probably quarantine the class for 14 days,” he added. “That teacher will then teach from home, and the students will attend from home for 14 days.”
Stroder noted that he has also received numerous questions on whether or not students will be required to wear a mask.
“We are encouraging wearing masks, but we are not going to mandate or enforce masks,” he said. “There might be some teachers who are concerned about safety and well-being, and they might ask their students to wear masks in their classroom. If they do, we’re going to support that. In terms of overall, we are encouraging wearing a mask just for safety and well-being. If you are concerned about your student, please have them wear a mask.”
The school will also have masks available for students who don’t have their own.
Q&A with RCS administrators
The administrators also held a question-and-answer session with the parents who had called in.
The recorded conference call is available to play at rcschool.net as well as further information on school opening, transportation and school pick-up and drop-off information. More information can also be found on the school’s Facebook page.