Juneau schools hear comments on smart start plan

    Dr. Bridget Weiss, Superintendent of Schools for the Juneau School District.

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - With seven weeks to go before schools are scheduled to start, Juneau schools have begun the process of showing what the community what the new normal will be for schools amid COVID-19.

    Schools are already likely to be delayed one week until August 24.

    Officials are clear the plan will have adjustments as the ebbs and flows of the pandemic and the case numbers change.  They predict several months of change before a vaccine is found.

    Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bridget Weiss said maintaining face to face contact with students is super important to the schools.

    Opinions varied greatly from parents on the use of masks by students.  Some parents asked for tougher course work for their kids than the virtual program last spring.

    Dr. Weiss said elementary schools create a challenge for social distance mandates.  She noted the most academic growth comes at the elementary level.  More face to face contact is important between teachers and students at this level.

    Elementary school in actual classrooms would be four days per week.  She added these students may have lost the most ground in the spring, "We felt it was the most responsible thing to do," she added.  They will focus on core course week while in school.  Music, physical education and other things can be the focus for at home learning.

    Middle schools could be divided into two groups of students with each group going to school two days per week.  They are considering whether to have the students go to school two consecutive days or Monday and Thursday, Tuesday and Friday.

    Wednesday is a float day with more emphasis on cleaning, employee training, development of lessons and reaching out to students who need additional help.

    Home school will be provided.  High school students can take the Home Bridge program and still attend two classes in person if they desire.

    The district has also purchased face shields for all teachers.

    Schools won't be able to test the temperature of every student in school each day as it would take too much manpower and take time away from instruction.

    Concerns raised by the public included day care options, how they will grade students, how staff will be evaluated for performance, looking at outside facilities for learning, and having students wear masks and or shields in school.

    The board plans another listening session during the early part of August.

     

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