Spencer Schools releases draft of Return to Learn Plan

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The draft of the Return to Learn Plan for the Spencer Community School District that was released earlier this week describes three ways the district could return to school next month.

Spencer Schools are scheduled to begin classes on August 24 for grades 9-12 and August 25 for grades K-8. How classes look when students are asked to begin, though, comes down to the Return to Learn Plan.

The plan, as its introduction describes, “is intended to assist staff, students and families in providing direction and clarification for the return to learning in the fall.”

The plan, an effort to create a safe environment as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, provides descriptions of roles and responsibilities for “stakeholders” based on three possible scenarios for how school classes may look: in-person, completely remote or online learning, or a hybrid model of the two.

According to the document, in-person learning means all students and staff would be in the buildings during the day “with appropriate safety measures in place.”

Some of those possible measures detailed in the plan include temperature screenings for students and staff upon entry, sneeze guards in common areas, more hand sanitizer available, more cleaning, opening classroom windows for more air circulation and more.

A hybrid model would mean the number of students in each buildings would be limited to 50% student capacity. It would be a mix of in-person and online learning.

The same safety measures described in the plan’s in-person scenario would apply to the time at schools in the hybrid model.

The online-only model would require all students to do classwork online with no in-person learning.

The Spencer School Board is expected to discuss a recommendation on how to implement the Return to Learn Plan at its meeting on July 28.

District will use survey data to help determine scenario

To help determine what scenario students and staff will work under will at least in part be influenced by a second survey sent out late last month to families and staff.

The survey gathered 847 family responses and 169 staff responses.

Will Dible, the district’s director of school improvement, said in an email to the Signal that “we will use this data to help in the decision making process but, just because something has the highest response, it doesn’t mean that it is the direction we will go. The board also wants to make sure to consider all the health and safety aspects that were presented at the board work session last night.”

That survey showed that 63% of families and 57.4% of staff would prefer the in-person model, 22.6% of families and 36.1% would prefer the hybrid model and 14.4% of families and 12.4% of staff would prefer the online model.

The district also asked who should be required to wear masks if the in-person or hybrid models were adopted. Of families, 41.9% said masks, face shields or face coverings should not be required for anyone, 38.8% said all students and staff should be required to wear either a mask, face shield or face covering, 13.3% said only older students and staff should be required and the smallest percentage said only staff should be required.

When answering the same question, 57.4% of staff indicated they believed all students and staff should be required to wear a mask, face shield or face covering, 28.4% said nothing should be required, 11.8% said only older students and staff and, as with families, the smallest percentage said only staff should have to wear some form of face covering.

Dible shares Return to Learn details on Spencer Weekly

Listen to a recent episode of Spencer Weekly featuring a conversation with Spencer Schools Director of Improvement Will Dible about the Return to Learn Plan and more on how that plan may be implemented.

You can find Spencer Weekly wherever you listen to podcasts or here.

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