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Wilson County Schools delays start, announces hybrid learning plan

The Wilson County Schools Board of Education has voted to approve a calendar change recommendation from Director of Schools Dr. Donna Wright. That recommendation included moving the start date to the 2020-2021 school year to Aug. 17 for students. Teachers would report on Aug. 10. The original start date for the upcoming school year was previously set for Aug. 3.

This approval provides a two-week shift in the calendar. At this point, no scheduled breaks on the current calendar would be affected by this approval. Those breaks include: fall break, winter/holiday break and spring break. Again, those remain the same with no change.

The two week advancement in the calendar would mean that two weeks would be added on to the end of the school year. With this approval, the last day of the 2020-2021 school year would be Thursday, June 4, 2021.

In addition, the teaching and learning model has been changed to begin the school year. Schools were originally going to be a traditional, but WCS now intends to start the school year in a modified hybrid model.

The hybrid model would have full school days on an A/B schedule, with half of students attending full days Tuesday and Thursday and the rest on Wednesday and Friday.

An informational sheet on the school structure options for the 2020-21 school year can be found on the district’s website at www.wcschools.com.

The change is due to the inclusion of all K-12 students. The previous hybrid model was K-8, so the modification would now include all high school students.

The modified hybrid model was not a measure that needed approval at Saturday’s meeting. At the previous Board of Education meeting, the school board approved reentry plans but also gave the Director of Schools authority to “revise as necessary” on what teaching and learning models would be utilized throughout the school year. Saturday, Wright advised the board on her reasoning to move to the modified hybrid plan.

Among the reasons given by Wright to start in modified hybrid was due to latest health trends and data regarding the coronavirus pandemic. She feels this decision benefits teachers, staffs and students tremendously by cutting student populations in half and placing everyone in a safer environment based on the latest health data.

The modified hybrid teaching and learning model is intended be in place until at least Friday, Oct. 2, 2020. Fall break is the following week Oct. 5-9. At that point, a thorough evaluation on health guidance and several other important district factors will be taken into consideration to determine what teaching and learning model would be in place beyond fall break. Gov. Bill Lee and the state department of education have voiced their support of opening schools for in-person learning.

It is possible the district could move to a traditional path, but it could possibly remain in the modified hybrid plan. Remote learning could be a possibility as well, however that is considered a last resort of action. As always, health guidance and important district data will determine the course of action surrounding teaching and learning throughout the entire upcoming school year.

Another important piece of information to come out of Saturday’s BOE meeting includes that families now have the option to move from virtual learning to modified hybrid via Skyward. WCS knows that this latest decision may have some families wanting to opt out of virtual learning. The virtual learning deadline has already passed and will not be reopened.

This newest option is available only to families who chose virtual learning before the deadline and want to move into the hybrid plan. The deadline to opt out of virtual learning will be Wednesday, July 29, at 3:30 p.m. Families can go on to Skyward to opt out.

For those who chose the traditional plan before Saturday’s meeting, they are now in the modified hybrid plan. If a family chose virtual learning prior to its deadline, and they prefer to stay in virtual, then no action is needed. They will remain in the virtual learning path throughout the entire semester.

More complete information and specifics on utilizing the modified hybrid plan, including the determination of an A/B student and what days students will attend throughout a school week will be revealed at the Aug. 3, 2020, Wilson County Schools Board of Education meeting.

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