Reopening Schools Task Force
The Reopening Schools Task Force is charged with assessing the potential challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic in order to make recommendations for the safe return of Richland Two students and employees for the 2020-2021 school year.
The Task Force was convened in May and includes a diverse group of 100 partners representing all facets of the district. Because of the possible far-reaching impacts of the pandemic, an interdisciplinary approach drawing on expertise from across the district is essential. Members of the task force represent student health, academics, special education, extracurricular activities, technology and innovation, human resources, administrative services, operations, assessment and accountability.
The group is split into four main areas: Safety, Operations, Academics and Technology & Innovation, and Communications. The task force is guided by the following three principles:
- Schools, centers and administrative offices must re-open in a safe and efficient manner.
- The plan must inspire confidence in employees and families.
- Teachers, parents, students, principals and various district level personnel with expertise in the above four categories are partners whose input are essential.
How might we logistically open up school in the fall in the safest manner to ensure the most equitable learning for all students?
This question is what five design teams - each made up of principals, classroom teachers, nurses, parents, district personnel, students, and special education staff - are working to answer. Through the month of June these teams will be using a human-centered design lens to provide district leadership with possible scenarios of the logistical reopening of schools that fall between fully online and fully brick and mortar options. Teams began with empathy work in reading articles and resources from around the world on reopening schools, talking to community members and district faculty and staff, and conducting surveys and polls to gauge the community's pulse.
Input from everyone and the participation of diverse teams will create greater equity in our solutions. Teams meet over Google Meets at least once a week and do individual work and reflection outside of those meetings. As they move through June, teams will work on the ideation phase of design: diverging as wide as possible to capture all possible scenarios then converging on top solutions. With each team's top scenarios voted on, they will recommend top ideas and share key insights with district leadership around the end of the June.
On June 1, Richland Two conducted an email survey of students, parents, and employees in an attempt to assess what community members think and feel about returning to school in the fall. The district is analyzing responses and using it to help inform the re-opening plan. As of June 8, 42.4 percent of employees and families had completed the survey. Additional surveys are likely, and parents are encouraged to participate.
On July 1 Richland Two parents and students were emailed a survey about reopening schools. An employee survey was sent on July 6. The surveys closed on July 12.Click here to view survey results from July 1, 2020 Reopening Survey
Below are definitions of the educational models discussed in the survey.
Richland Two Virtual School
The Richland Two Virtual School (R2eSchool) will serve students in kindergarten through 12th grade as a comprehensive schooling option. Families who choose to attend R2eSchool will maintain their stay for the length of the 2020-2021 school year. For the 2021-2022 school year and beyond, families can choose to stay e-students or they may transfer their enrollment back to their zoned school.
Instruction in the R2eSchool will be delivered by highly qualified Richland Two educators who, like many of you, found success and want to continue in an eLearning environment. Students in the program will adhere to South Carolina and Richland Two academic standards. Additionally, students will have the opportunity for proficiency based learning opportunities through personalized instructional modules. Students will be provided a device and families are responsible for providing Internet access and a supportive eLearning environment at home.
School Based eLearning
Students participate in eLearning five days a week with teachers from their zoned/choice school. Richland Two teachers have undergone significant training and development in eLearning techniques and strategies over the summer so students and parents can expect an effective and organized approach to new learning, assignments, and assessments.
Because this is not an urgent and rapid deployment of eLearning like we experienced in the spring, families should expect a full return to mandatory attendance in the eLearning sessions and grading policies as established by the South Carolina Department of Education Uniform Grading Policies and Richland Two expectations.
School Based Hybrid
This option incorporates in-person learning at a physical school or district site and also includes an eLearning component. Students report to school two days a week and participate in eLearning three days a week. Specific details on what days students report to school and what days they participate in eLearning will be determined as the plans are finalized. Federal, state, and local guidance will be followed as it relates to physical distancing, personal protective equipment (PPE) and other health concerns at each school and site.
Classroom Community -- Elementary schools only
Students come to schools five days a week and are organized in “classroom communities.” Each “classroom community” stays together primarily in one location during the school day including meals. Federal, state, and local guidance will be followed as it relates to physical distancing, PPE and other health concerns at each school and site.
On July 10, Dr. James Ann Sheley, Reopening Task Force chair and assistant superintendent for Academics, shared the district's draft plan with the school board at a Special Called meeting. Based on extensive research and the guidelines provided by DHEC, AccelerateED, and our multiple surveys (click on the thumbnails below to review this data), the Richland District Two Reopening Schools task force created a draft plan that uses a three phase approach for reopening our schools.
Dr. James Ann Sheley, assistant superintendent and Reopening Schools Task Force chair, presented the draft plan at the board meeting. Click on the video below to view Dr. Sheley's presentation, which begins at 4:35.
View the presentation here.
At the July 21 School Board meeting, Dr. James Ann Sheley, Reopening Task Force chair and assistant superintendent for Academics, presented the district's final plan including sample schedules for elementary, middle and high school students. We are awaiting final approval from the S.C. Department of Education. Since that can take up two weeks from when the district submitted the plan (July 17), we are moving forward with the first steps of implementing the plan and preparing for Back-to-School 2020-2021.
Those first steps include:
1. Taking an updated calendar to our Board of Trustees to approve on Tuesday, July 28 at a special called board meeting. If approved, the start date for the 2020-2021 school year would be pushed back to August 31.
2. Send out an online form for parents to select the learning model(s) for their student(s) during the different phases of the plan. That will be sent to parents no later than July 27.
Watch video of Dr. Sheley's presentation to the board below:
Watch Dr. Sheley's powerpoint presentation below.