South-Western City Schools puts hybrid plan into gear

ALAN FROMAN
afroman@thisweeknews.com
ThisWeek group

South-Western City Schools intends to implement enhanced safety procedures as the district proceeds with a blended-learning model this month.

The district's procedures are designed to ensure students and staff remain safe and to limit the potential spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Superintendent Bill Wise said.

The school year began Aug. 27 with students participating in 100% remote learning, but South-Western officials were able to determine on the first day back that the blended-learning model could be implemented, he said.

Students are being divided into "blue" and "green" groups, with each group attending school in their buildings two days a week, Wise said.

"The blue group will be in the building Mondays and Tuesdays and the green group on Thursdays and Fridays," he said.

For the other three days, students will have materials sent home with them to work on and participate in remote learning, Wise said.

The blended-learning model will allow South-Western to reduce by half the number of students who are in the school buildings each day, he said.

The move to the blended model resulted from the improved COVID-19 data for Franklin County presented to area superintendents Aug. 25 in a weekly update from Franklin County Public Health, Wise said.

"The data showed the COVID-19 numbers and positivity rates were decreasing," he said. "Another important factor was that Franklin County had moved from red (level 3) to orange (level 2) in the state's color-coded system."

With face-to-face instruction returning, the district's protocols include requiring all staff members and students to wear masks in school buildings, Wise said.

"There will be breaks provided for students in K-6 as directed by teachers," he said. "We know it is a lot to ask a younger student to keep a mask on at all times."

Students will be required to wear masks while riding buses to and from school, Wise said.

Hand sanitizers "have been put everywhere" in the school buildings and students and staff will be encouraged to use them often.

The cleaning of classrooms and other areas in the school buildings will be enhanced and increased, he said.

Lunches will be "grab-and-go" for students. Students will be handed a tray or package of food to avoid having them select and handle food items and containers themselves, deputy superintendent Dave Stewart said.

Attendance at fall sports events will be limited to family members only or a limited number of guests selected by a student athlete, Wise said.

"There is no way we can allow the public to attend a game and stay within the guidelines set by the state of restricting attendance to 15% of a venue's capacity," he said.

afroman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekAfroman