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Rutherford County Schools considering hybrid schedule to start second semester (WITH VIDEO)

 

December 21 Update and Reminder:

RCS Parents,

This is James Evans with Rutherford County Schools and we want to remind you about next week’s schedule for students and update you about the hybrid proposal for second semester.

Next week, students do not have school on Monday. They will resume school via distance learning Tuesday through Friday of next week. This will be asynchronous learning, which means your students will be able to complete their work on their own schedule not at a specific time. Your teachers will reach out to you Monday with information about activities the students can complete at home next week.

On Tuesday, Jan. 5, our School Board is scheduled to discuss a hybrid schedule proposal that would begin on Monday, Jan. 11.

We previously announced this proposal before winter break, and we have been reviewing various options since then. But in summary, the proposal calls for students to attend school on alternating days depending on their last name for those in grades 7-12. We are also considering adding sixth-grade to the alternating schedule so that middle schools will operate on the same schedule for all grade levels.

The current proposal that will be considered by the school board calls for students in each group to attend school on the same days each week to help parents with planning.

The reason we are considering a hybrid schedule is because there is an urgent need to reduce the number of students within school buildings at the same time. By doing so, it will increase our ability to social distance our students, thereby reducing the number of quarantine situations and hopefully reducing how often we must close an entire school to in-person learners.

Once a final decision is made, we will communicate the details to parents. We know this has been a frustrating season because of the pandemic, but we appreciate all the sacrifices everyone is making and we hope you have a happy new year.

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Original message:

December 18, 2020

Rutherford County Schools

Rutherford County Schools is considering an option to begin the second semester using a hybrid model to reduce the number of students in school buildings at the same time, which will improve the ability to social distance and reduce the number of quarantines. 

By doing so, the district aims to lessen how often schools are moved to all distance-learning because of the number of employees and students on quarantine.

No final decisions have been made, but a proposal will be presented to the Rutherford County Board of Education at its Jan. 5, 2021 meeting. The meeting begins at 5 p.m., is open to the public and will be broadcast live on YouTube. 

“School districts across Tennessee and the nation are struggling to find a way to safely continue instruction while also balancing the load on teachers and parents,” Director of Schools Bill Spurlock said. “While no solution is perfect, this proposal will help us to increase social distancing by reducing the number of students at school each day.”

Director Spurlock added: “We are announcing this proposal now to give parents time to begin planning for a hybrid schedule, which is looking to be more and more necessary.”

Under the proposal, students in grades 7-12 would alternate in-person school days with asynchronous distance-learning days. 

Students whose last names start with A-L would attend in-person on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, whereas students with last names beginning with M-Z would attend school in-person on Tuesday, Jan. 12. Schools would work with blended families who may have different last names to ensure all household children are in the same group. 

The two groups would then alternate in-person instruction every other day, thereby reducing the number of students in a school on any given day.

The proposal calls for this hybrid system to be in place for four weeks (Jan. 11 through Feb. 5), and it will then be determined whether to continue the hybrid plan for another four weeks based on COVID-19 community data, such as spread rate and positivity rate. 

There is also an important calendar change affecting the first week of January 2021. 

Students will attend school through asynchronous distance-learning “Flex Days” on Jan. 5-8. Teachers will provide activities and assignments for students to complete at home on their own schedule on these days.

Following is a summary of key points with the proposal, which will continued to be refined and evaluated until the School Board meeting on Jan. 5, 2021.

  • Distance learning will continue to be an option for all grades and parents can still make a selection for the second semester
  • The hybrid plan only applies to grades 7-12 initially, although we also will look at a contingency of moving upper elementary grades to a hybrid approach if the need arises
  • The groups will be divided by students with last names beginning with A-L and M-Z. Schools will work with blended families who may have different last names to ensure they are in the same alternating group.
  • Distance-learners in grades 7-12 will follow the same hybrid schedule to aid teachers in preparing lessons and assignments
  • Before the School Board meeting on Jan. 5, 2021, school district leaders will continue monitoring the status of COVID-19 in our community, including spread rate and positivity rate, both of which are currently very high.
  • The calendar will be adjusted the first week of January 2021 to allow for planning and additional time after the holiday break to allow for an anticipated rise in quarantine situations.
  • School employees will return Jan. 4 for training and planning, while students will attend school through asynchronous distance-learning “Flex Days” on Jan. 5-8. Asynchronous means that students can complete daily activities and assignments on their own schedule, thereby easing the burden parents’ work schedules.
  • The hybrid plan would then begin Monday, Jan. 11 and continue through Friday, Feb. 5, which is four weeks. It will then be determined whether to continue the hybrid plan for another four weeks based on COVID-19 community data.
  • Under this plan, there should be a larger number of substitute teachers available for elementary schools to assist if teachers at those schools are out for quarantine.

“We appreciate everything our employees, parents and students have been doing during these unprecedented times,” Director Spurlock said. “We know that many have been frustrated because of the effects of the pandemic on our way of life and our daily routines. The best way for our community to get through this pandemic is by finding solutions together for the sake of our students.”