During these turbulent times, school districts across the country are having to plan for a fall semester that might not be possible in person. While no official plans for the fall semester have been finalized thus far, the Missouri School Board’s Association has recently released possible guidelines for school districts to implement next year.
At this point in time, no one can even be certain that in-person schooling will be an option and with many states opening up, health officials are warning of a possible second wave of the coronavirus outbreak. There is a sense, however, that every outcome should be considered.
The Missouri School Board’s Association has suggested multiple options for safe, in-person school. These include alternating attendance by grade level, scheduling certain grades to arrive at certain times of day, employing year-round schooling with alternating breaks for groups of students, or having a mix of in-person and distance learning.
Brentwood principal Dr. Ed Johnson said, “We have to prepare for all scenarios… we have to prepare for face-to-face, getting back in the building and looking at how we can keep things socially distant. We have even considered a hybrid type of a model where you have some face-to-face and some distance learning, or totally distance learning.”
Even though each scenario at this time is equally unpredictable, the Brentwood administration is making sure that they have considered the aspects of each outcome. Employing a face-to-face or hybrid learning style in the Fall will likely mean necessary changes to school policy to maintain social distancing guidelines. Johnson says, “School will look a little different with the way we release kids from school, with the way kids enter school. We’ll try to keep from having those bottleneck moments.”
For this distance-learning quarter, Brentwood employed a hold-harmless grading policy. This type of policy ensures that as long as students continue to contribute to their school work to the best of their ability, their grade would not drop below their final third quarter grade. If distance-learning will continue to be utilized, grading policies will change. Johnson says, “We definitely won’t have hold-harmless, it will be online programming with kids being held accountable for the work that they produce online.”
While a decision on what the fall semester will look like has not been made final, Johnson suggests that the ”Decision is going to be right up at the beginning of July… at the beginning of July, we will start really honing in on what the programming will be.” Many school districts are treating their plans for next semester as living documents, subject to change at any time. As this year comes to a close, Johnson is optimistic about the capability of the Brentwood community: “What our goal was in this trial run was to cultivate an online learning community. I think everyone would improve their performance the next time around. Out of this experience, somehow everyone built skills that they never needed to use.”
Like all schools, Brentwood has had to learn to adapt to this new, but temporary reality. If one thing has shown through it is that the Brentwood community is strong and resilient. All support resources and staff members will be available after the end of the school year to continue to provide students with love and support.