Heading into the 2020-2021 school year, GMSD believes that continuing the education in our community is imperative. Our staff has spent many hours to develop the safest ways to provide a rigorous educational experience which includes face to face instruction, hybrid schedules, virtual options and programs that meet the social emotional needs of our students. GMSD is ready to implement any of those methods as the situation changes.
Our school board created a new vision in the Spring, ‘Inspiring Personal Excellence’. We believe that an education should balance student safety with belonging, and connectedness to school.
Since the spring closure, our staff pivoted from providing in-person instruction to planning for virtual and hybrid modes of learning. This shift led to the forming of task force committees and providing professional development offerings, all using research-based best practices. GMSD has held weekly meetings with over 110 staff members ranging from district office staff, curriculum writers, technology staff, school administrators, classroom teachers, ESE teachers, school counselors, fine arts staff, and coaches. Beyond those meetings, smaller groups such as librarians, Response to Intervention specialists, instructional technology coaches, content leads, special populations, small teacher groups, and cross departmental collaboration groups are leading the way for the return to school. Staff has had the opportunity to attend multiple webinars around digital learning, supporting students with disabilities and safety measures for reopening with students and staff in mind. The district administration has also been working with the health department, county administration, municipal mayors, regional superintendents, and TN Department of Education supervisors to emulate best practices while developing a plan that meets the specific needs of our district.
We have considered six different plans and are ready to move from one plan to another as the environment and safety of students and staff changes. We are recommending starting the year with a mixture of face-to-face instruction and digital learning for our district. Some student groups will have additional in-person opportunities based on meeting individual student needs. Students who are served on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will continue to have access to their services. As always, families and school teams are able to make adjustments to plans as individual student data is examined.
Social Distancing & Instructional Models
One of the key recommendations of the Shelby County Health Department and Center for Disease Control (CDC) is to provide 6 feet of social distancing. The physical space of GMSD buildings/classrooms and state funded staffing formulas are limiting factors in meeting these recommendations. They require innovative approaches that will be developmentally appropriate for each grade level.
Exceptional Student Education
GMSD will follow IEPs, ILPs, and 504s of all students. All plans outlined in IEPs will eclipse any hybrid plans listed below. As mentioned above, IEP team members can schedule a meeting to amend plans on an as needed basis. As always, GMSD will meet the needs of individual students.
All students in elementary school will attend school in-person five days a week. Each school is developing daily schedules based on their unique layout to meet recommendations while still providing high quality instruction, Response to Intervention, special education, LAMPS/MAPS, recess, lunch and supervised distance learning.
Sixth grade students will attend school in-person five days a week. Both Riverdale and Houston Middle School are developing creative solutions to reduce class sizes and provide CDC recommended social distancing techniques.
Seventh Grade – Eighth Grade
BEP state-staff funding formulas provide for an average size of 25 students for seventh and eighth grade. The size of our classrooms cannot meet the recommended guidelines of social distancing at these grade levels.
Most students will attend school in-person for two days each week and receive three days of digital learning. Depending on students’ identified disabilities, some groups of students with IEP services will be offered in-person instruction five days a week. Other groups will receive in person instruction on Friday to provide enrichment and intervention. Scheduling for in-person days will mirror a traditional school day for a middle schooler. Students will be placed in either a Monday and Wednesday Cohort or a Tuesday and Thursday Cohort. These scheduling cohorts will be organized by alphabetical last names or siblings (families) listed in Skyward. Schools will reach out to parents with details about your child’s schedule.
When students are not attending school for in-person learning they will be required to participate in distance learning. Distance learning will look drastically different than it did last Spring, as the state has changed its restrictions. Students will be given flexible schedules, be accountable for virtual attendance, graded on completion of assignments, and provided meaningful feedback from teachers on their work. Tasks on distance learning days will include both online and offline activities. Information on cohorts & schedules will be released by the school prior to August 6th.
BEP state-staff funding formulas provide for an average size of 25 students for ninth through twelfth grades. The size of our classrooms cannot meet the recommended guidelines of social distancing at these grade levels.
Most students will attend school in-person for two days each week and receive three days of digital learning. Depending on students’ identified disabilities, some students with IEP services will be offered in-person instruction five days a week. Other groups will receive in person instruction and support on Friday to provide additional opportunities. Scheduling for in-person days will look different than the regular school day. Students will be placed in either a Monday and Wednesday Cohort or a Tuesday and Thursday Cohort. These scheduling cohorts will be organized by alphabetical last names or siblings (families) listed in Skyward. Schools will reach out to parents with details about your child’s schedule.
When students are not attending school for in-person learning they will be required to participate in distance learning. Distance learning will look drastically different than it did last Spring, as the state has changed its restrictions. Students will be given flexible schedules, be accountable for virtual attendance, graded on completion of assignments, and provided meaningful feedback from teachers on their work. Tasks on distance learning days will include both online and offline activities. Information on Cohorts & Schedules will be released by the school prior to August 6th.
SCHOOL SAFETY PROCEDURES
PPE Staff & Students
All staff will be required to wear a mask or facial covering during arrival, dismissal, and during times that social distancing will be difficult (when in common areas, lounges, or during transitions). GMSD has ordered face masks and face shields for employees. Plexiglass guards have been ordered for high traffic areas and will be made available to staff on a case-by-case basis.
Use of facial masks in the classroom or when with a small cohort will be recommended but not required if social distancing is being observed. Exceptions for staff with disabilities and other health impairments will be made. Any adult visitor entering the campus, will be required to wear a mask or facial covering.
Students will be required to wear a mask or facial covering during arrival, dismissal, and during times that social distancing will be difficult (such as class transitions and hand washing or restroom breaks). Parents will need to provide a mask or facial covering for their students. Use of facial masks in the classroom or when with a small cohort will be recommended but not required if social distancing is being observed. Exceptions for students with disabilities and other health impairments will be made.
GMSD will partner with families to complete daily at-home symptom screening for all students. Schools will monitor that parents are completing symptom screenings via an online check-in system. GMSD will also provide parent training on how to conduct the at-home symptom screenings. The procedure will require parents to take their child’s temperature at home daily and answer the CDC recommended symptom questions.
All GMSD staff will complete an onsite symptom screening each day as a part of their normal check-in procedure. Any adult visitor entering the campus will be required to complete an onsite symptom screening which will include a temperature reading.
GMSD has purchased rapid scan thermometers to be kept on each hallway, grade level, high traffic area, etc. These thermometers will be used on a case-by-case basis to check for temperatures of 100.4 or greater. Students or staff with fevers or observable symptoms of COVID-19 will be sent to a designated, supervised area separate from others until they are able to leave the facility. Normal health policies and procedures will be followed.
Schools will work with parents to provide flexibility in attendance if students have been exposed to COVID-19 or if they are showing any symptoms. Distance learning activities for those students will be available in lieu of being counted absent if the student is well enough to complete them. GMSD wants families to practice necessary precautions and are ready to work with parents to keep all of our students healthy.
Positive COVID-19 Cases in the Schools
In all cases of either suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, FERPA and HIPAA protection laws will be followed by all staff. Due to the privacy issues governed by law, the identity of the person cannot be shared. It is, however, important that parents report confirmed COVID-19 cases to the school so that proper protocols can be enacted.
Standard health procedural letters will be sent to notify parents if students or staff have come in direct contact with individuals who tested positive for COVID-19. On a case-by-case basis, situations may occur in which an entire class, cohort, or school building will transition to distance learning to allow for quarantine. These decisions will be made in partnership with the Shelby County Health Department (SCHD).
Building Sanitization and Cleaning Procedures
Increased cleaning efforts have been outlined with our custodial service provider, SKB, to include multiple daily cleanings of common areas and increased efforts in each classroom.
GMSD is exploring hiring temporary assistance at each school building to both clean and monitor the increased cleaning effort protocols and ensure that their building is in alignment with district standards.
GMSD has purchased five Clorox Total 360 Cleaning Systems. These systems are often used in hospitals to mitigate the spread of germs. Each classroom will be sanitized routinely. High traffic areas will be disinfected on a regular basis.
All school HVAC systems have been upgraded with High-MERV filters. The MERV-13 filters are the industry standard in reducing particles and bacteria in the air. Our HVAC systems also have the ability to circulate fresh air in programmed bursts through the building. GMSD has programmed fresh air in short, frequent bursts.
GMSD is purchasing additional cleaning supply kits for teachers to be kept in the classroom. Staff will be trained to implement routine sanitization methods multiple times throughout the day (such as the wiping of high touch surfaces and objects).
Each school is developing a hand washing/hand sanitizing schedule that ensures all students are taking regular breaks to wash their hands throughout the day. Restrooms will be regularly checked for necessary materials. Hand sanitizing stations have been placed throughout each building. GMSD has also purchased hand sanitizer for all staff members to keep in classrooms.
Common Spaces (Cafeteria & Recess)
Until recommendations become more relaxed, common spaces at the schools will be restricted. This includes the cafeteria. GMSD is working with our new food service provider to serve lunch in classrooms.
Recess and other outdoor activities will resume as they are an important part of the health and social wellness of students. Schools are developing plans to allow for a social distancing recess plan. Facial coverings must be worn by students in a playground setting. Alternative ways for students to socially distance without facial coverings in their small cohort groups and play in non-playground areas are also being created by each school.
Restricted Guest Access
Until further notice, no guests or parents will be admitted on campuses. Each school will be working with PTOs and parents to provide an alternative plan for parent volunteers and engagement.
Important meetings such as IEPs and parent teacher conferences will take place either virtually or in the front office conference spaces when virtual meetings are not possible.
Parents or delivery services will not be allowed to deliver outside food or birthday treats until guidelines become relaxed.
After School Activities, Arts, & Athletics
After school activities, athletics, and fine arts are an important part of the social emotional well-being of students. GMSD has prioritized that these activities can continue if protocols and safety guidelines are being observed. Athletics will resume according to TSSAA guidelines. While there may be interruptions in aspects of these programs, students will be able to participate in many aspects that are allowable.
For many working parents, our partnership with the City of Germantown Parks and Rec Department R.E.A.C.H. Program is essential. R.E.A.C.H. will be permitted to provide this service on our campus and will follow all school procedures and safety measures. Questions about R.E.A.C.H. need to be directed to Germantown Parks and Recreation.
Our transportation provider, Durham, has provided information about their safety procedures on buses. Parents can view that information here. GMSD encourages students who do not need to ride the bus to find alternative ways (such as carpooling) to and from school to decrease the numbers of students riding the buses as much as possible. The hybrid scheduling at the middle and high school will greatly reduce numbers on buses serving Riverdale, Houston Middle, and Houston High. At this time, GMSD does not plan to run extra routes for elementary students.
Distance Learning & Student Devices
Distance learning will provide required, compulsory education that continues to move students forward through standards and lessons. GMSD is creating a plan to assess students’ mastery of standards, attendance, and teacher feedback.
Devices will be distributed during the first weeks of school. At this time, all K-3, and 6-8 students will be assigned an iPad. For elementary students the devices will remain at school unless virtual learning becomes necessary, and all 6-8 students will be able to take devices home. Chromebooks will be provided for 4th, 5th, 9th, and 10th graders. Juniors and Seniors will keep the MacBooks they currently have. Some device models may be subject to change depending on enrollment numbers.
Virtual Learning Opportunities
GMSD recognizes that families may have unique circumstances that require the need for full virtual learning or other options. We are developing plans for an application process for those families.
GMSD will release additional information and the GMSD Virtual Learning Program on July 20th. The application will open on July 20th and close on July 29th.