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Lineburg: Most want students back in class / July 09, 2020

With two-thirds of responses in, most families in Halifax County have expressed a clear preference for sending their students to school under the hybrid plan that the school division has put in place for the coming semester.

Superintendent of Schools Mark Lineburg said the Central Office is continuing to review and tally the survey results, but so far, 67 percent of families say they plan to send their children back to school, while around 30 percent say they will take the option of remote learning at home.

Lineburg praised the attentiveness that parents and caregivers have given to the survey, which was due by July 6. “Sixty-five percent have responded to our survey — that’s a heck of a good response rate we’ve gotten,” he said.

With the information, Lineburg said teachers and principals will better be able to develop plans for the new school year. While the Central Office has come up with a framework for instruction — with in-person attendance for most students on alternating days of the week, and remote online instruction the rest of the time — fleshing out the particulars has yet to happen, said Lineburg.

Although many details are yet to resolved, Lineburg said he could shoot down one misunderstanding that has surfaced among high school parents — that there will be four attendance groups that alternate time inside the HCHS building, not two.

With two groups, students would be set to attend class in person on alternating days: the administration has outlined plans for an A/B schedule that would have one group in the school building on Mondays and Wednesdays, the other group on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Friday would be set aside for teacher planning.

With four attendance groups — A, B, C, D — students would be in class in person not only on alternating days, but alternating weeks. Under such a schedule, with four classes per semester, students at the high school would have in-person time in each of their classes once every two weeks.

Lineburg said such a schedule, while discussed by staff at the high school, is a “non-starter.

“That’s not accurate at all, I can tell you that right now,” he said. “Did we talk about a scenario like that? … We talk about everything, but that’s not a model that is under consideration.”

Lineburg pleaded for patience as leadership teams at each county school sort out arrangements for the new year: “In the effort to do that, we’re going to be as safe as we can be and as technical as we can be, because we all want the same thing, to get kids back to school.

“We don ‘t mess around. It’ll be technically sound when we come up with it … I’d rather start out real conservatively and take our time getting it right rather than [have a virus outbreak and] be right back out of school.

“A month into this, we will find ways to hone our approach and blend our craft and collaborate” as educational professionals to teach students online and face-to-face.

“I think we’re going to work our way through it. I’m confident of that.”

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