Two-third of families opt for in-school instruction

Custodian Jackie Kembel of Caldwell County Elementary School cleans the floor in one of the classrooms Thursday in preparation for the opening of the 2020-21 year. Faculty and staff will work hard to be sure the school is as clean and germ-free as possible to welcome back more than 1,100 students Aug. 24.

More than two-thirds of the parents in the Caldwell County School District opted to have their children attend school when classes begin Aug. 24.

According to information on the CCSD website, 67.5% — 27 of every 40 families — felt comfortable sending their children to the classroom for traditional instruction.

CCSD Superintendent Nate Huggins said there are about 1,740 students in the district, meaning that about 1,170 students will be in the classrooms, at least for the first nine-week grading period.

However, about half of those — fewer than 600 — will be in the buildings at one time. One group of students will attend school on Monday and Wednesday, while the other group will attend on Tuesday and Thursday. Friday will be an at-home day for all students.

Those students who will take at-home instruction every day will receive similar instruction that their classmates get in school.

“(Teachers) are going to spend longer hours trying to help (at-home students) get through their lessons,” Huggins said. “The high school is going to be a little easier than the other schools because they’re giving them an Apex Learning program that we use for kids who have credit recovery and may have missed a couple of credits during their high school career and need to make that up.

“It’s an online program. You have to have a computer to do it, and you need to have the internet to do it.”

Huggins said that the procedure to make schools safer will follow guidelines issued by the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“There’s going to be a lot of procedures,” he said. “We’re going to go through the procedures as to what to do to keep things safe: social distancing, washing your hands, if you have to sneeze, what you have to do.

“Following the CDC guidelines, they’re going to go over those and make sure everybody understands what the expectation is. We not only have to keep the kids safe; we have to keep our faculty and staff safe as well.”

Huggins expects parents to have some questions about the lessons or how school will work and said they should call the school that their student goes to.

“It’s all new to us,” he said. “Everybody’s going to be working the same scenario because it’s a new platform for everyone. It’s going to be different from (non-traditional instruction, or NTI, which got students through the end of school last year through instruction at home).

“This time … if you don’t have internet, you’re going to take the in-school platform. With NTI, we just gave (students) paper packets. There wasn’t as much structure as there’s going to be with this platform.”

At-home students are required to have internet service to be able to communicate with teachers and take instruction.

“The teachers will be talking to them from the classroom,” Huggins said. “It’ll be kind of like a Zoom meeting. They’re going to be teaching the lesson to the students who are on the virtual side of things.”

In March, COVID-19 caught schools nationwide off-guard, and teachers and administrators had to work quickly to provide adequate instruction to get to the end of the school year in May.

Huggins said that there has been enough time before school begins to prepare and be sure that all the scenarios are accounted for regarding instruction and communication.

“We will be able to let the students know what the expectations are when they get to the school building,” he said. “(When teachers report on Aug. 10,) the principals will get their faculty and staff together and develop plans for the unknown, which is tough to do.”