Plans for reopening include school-led cyber option
By Jamie Wiggan
Plans for the 2020-21 school year include establishment of a permanent in-house cyber option at Sto-Rox.
Assembling for the first in-person school board meeting since March, Sto-Rox officials discussed what a start to the new school year looks like in the time of coronavirus.
“We will be open in August,” Superintendent Frank Dalmas said during the June 16 meeting.
To begin the reopening process, parents and caregivers were sent surveys gauging their preferences and comfort levels. Of the 56 responses so far collected, Dalmas said they range from hopes for full physical reintegration to preferences for continued remote learning. In order to retain those who are uncomfortable returning to brick-and-mortar classrooms, Dalmas said the administration has begun plans to assemble
its own fully-fledged cyber school as an additional schooling option.
“The goal is to have a really good cyber option so we can keep our kids and even get some of them back,” said Michael Amick, district curriculum director, referring to students in the district who dropped out to enroll in external cyber school systems.
Amick said the district has also set a target for ensuring every student in the district has access to a Chromebook or appropriate electronic device by the fall and has applied for funding through the federal CARES Act to achieve this.
Directors applauded the move to establish a cyber school, which, along with improved technology access and new online teaching platforms, represents positive change forced upon the district by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think this pandemic has catapulted [the district] into the 21st Century,” said Director Shyanne Rippole.
Sam Weaver, high school assistant principal of student affairs, presented specific guidelines for conducting athletics and extracurricular affairs in light of COVID-19 precautions.
The guidelines involve extensive measures in both social distancing and screening for possible cases.
To begin with, athletics games and training sessions will be limited to essential personnel, with support staff, media and spectators phasing in as measures are gradually lifted, Weaver said.
To reduce the immediate spread of infections, lockers and water fountains will be decommissioned and students will be encouraged to carry their own water bottle. Sanitary standards for gym and fitness equipment will be consistently elevated.
Details on bussing and transportation for athletics — but also for regular school transit — are still being worked out.
“There’s a lot to think of and none of it’s perfect,” Weaver said.
“The number one thing has to be keeping our kids healthy.”