TCS PLANS ‘OPTIONS’: Registration opens with traditional, online models

Published 6:21 pm Friday, July 10, 2020

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Troy City Schools registration for the 2020-2021 opened this week with both traditional and virtual options available to students.

“School will look different this school term,” said Cynthia Thomas, interim superintendent. “We have been working very hard to put a plan in place that reassures parents.”

The plan begins with an online registration portal, accessible through the Troy City Schools website. “Parents can choose to enroll their students in a traditional learning program or in an online learning program,” Thomas said. “We have the registration open until July 24, and by parents responding that will help us gauge how many students will be coming back to the classrooms vs. attending online.”

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In response to concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic, Thomas said TCS administrators are offering an online learning platform for all students in grades kindergarten through 12.

“These are full-time, online learning platforms,” Thomas said. “Students in grades K-8 can participate through the district’s remote learning plan, which will be conducted during school hours and include interaction with teachers and facilitators,” Thomas said. “Students in grades 9-12 will enroll through the Troy City Schools Virtual Academy, which is administered through Access.” Registration for that academy is available through the Charles Henderson High School website.

Students will enroll in nine-week increments and the district will provide Chromebooks for students to use at home. “Students will also need to have access to the Internet,” Thomas said. “We do have some resources as relates to making hotspots available for parents, so we are asking them to notify us if they need assistance with access.”

All students enrolled through the virtual academy and the K-8 remote learning platforms will be counted in the TCS enrollment and can participate in extracurricular activities at the school level.

“We also realize that many parents and students will choose a traditional learning program,” Thomas said. For those students, new safety guidelines and precautions are being established district-wide. For example, students and teachers will be encouraged to wear masks, but not required to do so. Students will be sent to first period classrooms upon drop-off, rather than being allowed to congregate in common areas. Meals will be eaten in classrooms, rather than the cafeteria spaces. Enhanced sanitation procedures have been outlined for all faculty and staff. All faculty and staff will be screened for wellness each day and parents will be asked to screen their students for fever or other symptoms of COVID-19, keeping students at home rather than sending to school if symptoms appear.

School nurses are tasked with monitoring potential COVID-19 situations, quarantining sick children and making sure any cases are reported to the Alabama Department of Public Health for proper protocol. Thomas said the district is developing its plan for notifying parents of potential COVID-19 cases while protecting privacy concerns. High risk students and faculty members will be addressed on an individual basis.

The traditional learning approach assumes no surge in COVID-19 cases. The district also established plans for transitioning from a traditional learning approach to both blended and virtual programs, if community spread of COVID-19 should increase.

For example, if the district sees an increasing number of daily cases or a concern for a surge in COVID-19 cases, it would transition to the blended approach, utilizing a combination of face-to-face and online learning. Under this model, students would attend class on campus two days each week – Monday and Tuesday for half the students, Thursday and Friday for the other half – with Wednesday set aside for sanitizing and cleaning campuses. Students will utilize on-line platforms on the days they are not on campus.

If the rates of COVID-19 surge substantially, the system would shift to a non-traditional model, delivering all courses virtually as it did for the end of the 2019-2020 school year.

According to the district calendar, teachers will report Aug. 7 for training and in-service, and the first day of classes will be Aug. 20.

“We know that we cannot anticipate every challenge that may lie in the coming year, but we are working closely with health experts, state officials, school leaders, industry specialists, families, and others to be as prepared as possible,” Thomas said. “It will be challenging to say the least, but we will survive and students will continue to have access to opportunities that will ensure success.”