Following Tuesday’s approval by the Henderson County Board of Public Education, Henderson County Public Schools will transition to the “Return to Learn” Plan B model – a blend of in-person and remote learning – with a staggered entry for different grade levels, beginning on September 21.
“We know that any face-to-face instruction creates connected learning environments among students and their teachers,” said Superintendent Bo Caldwell. “And even with increased social distancing measures and different schedules, being together again with their peers and teachers will support our children’s socio-emotional needs.”
Plan B requires face coverings and daily temperature screenings for all K-12 students, staff, and visitors; enhanced cleaning protocols; and other safety measures.
The Schedule & Instructional Day
To meet physical distancing requirements, the “Return to Learn” Plan B will incorporate face-to-face instruction days and remote learning days at home, on an “A Day / B Day” schedule for grades 3-12.
–– Students in PreK-Grade 2, and eligible Intensive Intervention students will attend class on campus in-person every day, beginning Monday, September 21. The instructional day will consist of traditional in-person learning from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
–– Students in Grades 3-12 will be split into Group A and Group B based on last name, with flexibility provided for households. Each group will alternate meeting on campus for in-person learning two days each week, and access remote learning the other three days each week. Group A will attend in person on Mondays and Thursdays and Group B will attend in person on Tuesdays and Fridays; Wednesday will be remote learning days for all students in Grades 3-12.
For Grades 3-12, live and remote instruction will continue to be provided from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. every day except Wednesdays, which is remote only from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. for all students. Students scheduled to be on campus for instruction will remain in school after 12 p.m. for lunch and small group instruction, as well as opportunities for social interaction and Social-Emotional Learning through the end of the traditional school day.
–– For fully remote learners through Engage RLO, remote instruction will continue to be provided from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. every day. The Engage Remote Learning Option (RLO) will be a concurrent model, allowing remote learners to interact with HCPS teachers and peers. Families can still commit to a fully virtual first semester by registering for Engage RLO through the HCPS Enrollment Portal linked at www.HCPSNC.org.
“This plan gives priority to our youngest children for face-to-face time, understanding that older, more independent students are better equipped to succeed in a remote learning environment,” said Assoc. Superintendent Dr. John Bryant.
“Ultimately, it came down to, ‘How do we give every student the best possible education every day?’” said Asst. Superintendent Dr. Jan King. “We’ve not seen a plan that we feel is better for our kids,” added Bryant.
To help students and families keep track of their on-campus days and remote learning days, the district Google Calendar linked on the district and individual school websites has been updated to indicate “A Days” and “B Days.” Additionally, helpful graphic reminders of the weekly schedule will be shared by the district for families to reference.
This hybrid model has been approved through at least October 30, 2020, and includes changes to the 2020-21 school calendar regarding Oct. 16 and 19. Friday, Oct. 16 will now be a full day (for Group B) instead of an early dismissal day, and Monday, Oct. 19 is now an Optional Teacher Workday. Plans for the calendar beyond October 2020 will be evaluated and refined as the school year progresses, in response to the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in our community, and public health recommendations.
Staggered Start Dates
Students participating in Plan B will return to campus on staggered “start dates,” based on grade level and grouping.
September 21: all PreK-Grade 2 and eligible Intensive Intervention students start on-campus
September 24: rotation of Grade 3-5 students in Groups A/B
– Grade 3-5 students in Group A start on-campus September 24
– Grade 3-5 students in Group B start on-campus September 25
September 28: rotation of Grade 6-12 students in Groups A/B
– Grade 6-12 students in Group A start on-campus September 28
– Grade 6-12 students in Group B start on-campus September 29
Individual schools will be contacting families during the week of September 14 to confirm their children’s schedules in Group A or Group B.
Bus transportation will be provided, following health and safety requirements and guidance from the state. This includes spaced seating, capacity restrictions, and required face coverings for students and drivers. Bus drivers will participate in a temperature check before beginning their routes each day. Students riding the bus will be required to have their temperature checked before they enter school. Families can expect bus drivers to contact them during the week of September 14 to verify children’s bus riding schedules.
Child Nutrition Services
The USDA has extended the Summer Food Service Program through Dec. 31, allowing HCPS to serve breakfast and lunch meals to all students at no charge through the end of the calendar year. Under Plan B, “Meals On the Bus” routes will not continue, since buses will be used for transporting students daily. However, Grab-and-Go meal pickup options will continue at designated school sites. Additionally, take-home meals will be available for in-person students to take home with them for their following remote learning day.
Child Care Services
PSAM and PSPM child care services through HCPS will be offered at each elementary school site for students on days they are scheduled to be on campus for instruction, based on their grouping. PSPLUS services will be offered at designated school sites on Optional Teacher Workdays and Required Teacher Workdays.
Face coverings will now be required for children 5 years and older in HCPS Child Care facilities, per updated guidance on Sept. 4 from NCDHHS Division of Child Development and Early Education.
Families can expect additional details and updates about Plan B through the “R2L Weekly” communications posted each Thursday at 5 p.m. and on the HCPSNC.org/ReturnToLearn webpage.