The Franklin County School Board amended its 2020-21 calendar Monday, voting to delay the start of the school year until Aug. 26.
The board was presented with three options for school instruction in the upcoming year. Schools were closed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic and went to nontraditional instruction, or NTI, to finish the year.
“We’re very much aware as a school district, as an entity, for what COVID-19 has done to society,” FCS Superintendent Mark Kopp said. “It’s made it very challenging to determine what is the best option to go back to school.”
Kopp said moving the school start date, which was originally set for Aug. 12, to Aug. 26 would give the district flexibility using instructional hours instead of the number of instructional days and would allow for fall break, winter break and spring break.
The school board discussed the three options for school instruction Monday, and a decision on which option to use will be made at a later date.
The first option is 100% virtual instruction for families who want their children to stay home and the other students going to school for face-to-face instruction.
The second option is 100% virtual instruction for those who request it and a hybrid for those who want face-to-face instruction. The hybrid could consist of going to school a certain number of days and having virtual instruction on the other days.
The third option is 100% virtual instruction for all students.
“This would be one of those things where the state says cases have exploded and they make the recommendation to close like they did in March,” Kopp said. “In all honesty, it’s obviously the safest choice from a health perspective, but it may not be the best choice.”
When asked what his recommendation would be, Kopp said the first option.
“My recommendation would be option 1 and call our parents and ask them, try to find out exactly the number that would want the 100% virtual option,” he said, “and then make a determination with those numbers if we could come back, Monday through Friday, with the other students, and if we’re able to do that in a safe way, that would be my recommendation.”
Kopp said parents were sent two surveys, the second asking if they wanted their children to have virtual instruction or face-to-face instruction.
Out of 4,000 responses, 44% of parents want virtual instruction and 56% want in-school instruction.
Kopp reported that the district used $300,000 of its federal CARES Act money to buy more Chromebooks, a hybrid laptop computer and tablet, and the district now has enough for all students in grades 3-12.
He also said $100,000 has been spent on personal protection equipment, including gloves, hand sanitizing stations and markers for social distancing.