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Return dates for all students are a no-go, for now / September 17, 2020
Halifax County Superintendent of Schools Mark Lineburg on Monday presented a proposal to the Halifax County School Board for the resumption of in-person classroom learning that would apply to all students in the county school system — with groups coming back in waves from September to December, as envisioned under a timetable developed by administrators. The plan was not adopted at Monday’s meeting of the school board.

The plan, “Return to School: A phased approach template,” called for a two-pronged opening step — bringing back 169 special education students with the greatest needs, and allowing 15 students at the SVHEC Career Tech Academy to resume classwork. The start date for SPED students was Sept. 21, and Sept. 15 for the Career Tech students.

The School Board deadlocked on whether to send back the 169 SPED learners — the motion to do so failed on a tie 4-4 vote — but trustees agreed, by a 7-1 vote, that the Career Tech students could return to the SVHEC for mechatronics, IT and other career training.

The 15 returning students will join nine others enrolled in the welding program who have already gone back to the higher education center for their studies.

The plan laid out by Lineburg included other start dates for the return to school among subsets of the student population:

» Sept. 28 for homeless and EL (English as a second language) students

» Oct. 26, on an alternating A/B hybrid schedule, for students in grades pre-K through fifth grade

» Nov. 12, when students in pre-K through 5 would move from two days a week in the classroom to four days

» Nov. 23, when students in grades 4, 5, 6 and 9 would go back to school on an A/B schedule

» Dec. 1, when students in grades 7, 8, 10, 11 and 12 would return on an A/B class day schedule.

Lineburg stressed that the dates were intended to lay out a rough timetable for the resumption of classes, and do not represent an actual calendar. “We can shift the dates to what makes sense,” he said.

Under all of the proposed plans, families would retain the option of keeping their students at home for remote learning.

Lineburg also said if and when HCPS starts to bring students back to school buildings, it’ll need help from parents overcoming one of the biggest challenges — transportation. With buses unable to run at full capacity, Lineburg said the school division will be depending on parents to bring their students to school in the morning and pick them up at the end of the day.

Dealing with the impact of the pandemic has been “a monumental lift” for school division employees, Lineburg said.

On one issue — getting meals delivered to students who are studying at home — trustees heard upbeat words from George Higley with Sodexo, the school division’s food services provider. Higley offered high praise for the work of food services department workers, bus and car drivers, school employees and community volunteers who have helped to distribute 140,050 meals to students since the public health crisis closed schools in March.

“This community is just unbelievable,” said Higley, who praised the “exceptional partnerships” with local vendors who have made the massive distribution of school meals possible. “With everything going on on the outside, we’ve got great leaders in this community [including] our parents,” he added.

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Those severely disabled SPED children should be in school. Ridiculous decision by some of the board members to vote no. Idiots.


^^ what qualifications do you have to backup your opinion that SPED children should be in person class. What metrics do you have to draw an absolute conclusion that SPED students are better suited to learn in person? Or is the comment entirely based on opinion? The school and county should be pleading with every technology company, vendor and infrastructure builders for broadband to narrow the digital divide.

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