New Albany-Plain Local School District parents have an opportunity to weigh in on options for how students will resume classes Aug. 19.

The district has notified parents via email about an electronic survey, said district spokesman Patrick Gallaway.

“Their feedback will be crucial in planning for the return of school,” he said.

The survey closes Friday, June 19, Gallaway said. Results likely will be shared at a July school board meeting, he said.

During the June 8 school board meeting, Superintendent Michael Sawyers outlined a “traffic-light methodology” for options to conduct learning – a model he said he borrowed from Worthington Schools leaders.

Red, the worst-case scenario, would consist of remote learning, Sawyers said, and it could occur at any point in the school year, depending on possible spikes in the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

A yellow scenario would be implemented at any point in which the school district would be required to use social-distancing practices, Sawyers said.

Classes would need to be lowered from 24 to 12 students per room, he said, and it likely would lead to daily attendance rotation. In this case, students either would be in the classroom or learn from home, and teachers would attend school daily, he said.

Even in a green scenario, in which learning could be done at school without social distancing, a blended-learning environment incorporating online education still would be the norm so that students and teachers easily could transition to remote learning should it be necessary, Sawyers said.

Sawyers said district leaders still are awaiting guidance from the state on use of face masks and the possibility of daily health assessments for students.

Sawyers also apologized to parents during the board meeting for any alarm caused by an online article from a technology website that said the district was implementing a student-surveillance system to comply with coronavirus-safety measures.

The article on wired.com said the district was planning to pilot tracking technology during summer-school classes and implement it in August. The website said the technology would come from a company called Volan, which sells Bluetooth beacons to some schools as a safety tool.

“That is not accurate, and it has been taken completely out of context,” Sawyers said.

Sawyers said he apologized that parents learned of the information from a “misleading” article rather than from the district directly, and district leaders anticipated they would get to review the article prior to its publication.

Although the article said the district would implement a surveillance system that would use contact tracing to understand how students congregate, district leaders have not made any commitment to use the technology for the next school year and have not invested in anything, Sawyers said.

Rather, he said, district leaders were considering implementing a pilot program in two hallways in New Albany Middle School to understand how the software could be used in a school setting.

He said the opportunity came out of an ongoing conversation with a district parent about software advancements that could enhance student safety on campus.

New Albany students have ID badges that grant them access to campus buildings, Sawyers said. This technology is similar, in that it would be assigned to specific students and record which classrooms students were in at what points in time. The system also has been expanded to include the ability to record students’ temperatures, he said.

The district does not intend to track students beyond the campus, Sawyers said. The surveillance-system investigation was meant to be a safety-and-security conversation for exploration, he said.

Gallaway said the district has not determined whether to go through with the pilot program, which would include students and staff members on a voluntary basis.

“I think there’s still discussions to have,” he said.

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