SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A group of about 20 Savannah-Chatham County Public School students is helping district leaders re-imagine school in the fall.
SCCPSS said Tuesday’s summer day-camp offered a chance to test what works and what doesn’t from an operations standpoint. The select group of students participated with parent permission. The district was taking note of scheduling, how the students were interacting with each other, and social distancing.
It’s a day some are eager for; the first day of school. But this year, that process is much more challenging considering the coronavirus pandemic.
“They ask me all the time are we going to come back, are we going to come back, are we going to come back? I always say well we haven’t gotten an official word, yet but once we do, we’ll let them know,” Gadsden Elementary School Principal Dr. Renee Evans said.
The return to school is detailed from the posters on the wall to the stickers on the floor, and how students are interacting in spaces, but it’s all to ensure safety.
“The normal processes will still look the same, but we will have, we will be totally focused on prevention and that is ensuring that our kids have a safe learning environment,” said Chief Terry Enoch, with SCCPSS.
To create a safe space starts from the moment a student gets on a bus that is socially distanced to when they arrive at school. There are reminders of social distancing everywhere, sanitizers scattered, and cleaning efforts being done.
School leaders say they are still working to reconfigure school schedules and space to accommodate for changes and say staff will have to be trained for the new environment.
They formed a task force of more than a hundred people to look at a wide range of best practices.
“What do we need to do in our community, especially given the rates of transmission, so those small groups will assemble. They will look at the most current data and they will make recommendations or suggestions, or they will ask questions that allow us to think those things through thoroughly,” SCCPSS Superintendent Dr. Ann Levett said.
As for in a class, a lot will change. Not only the number of students, but also how they keep supplies, travel in the building and even their in-class learning model as sanitizing will take more time.
“The learning will be a little bit different. They will have to, everybody will be one-to-one they will all have to have their individual device so that in between the time that the teacher is not providing that direct instruction, they’ll be able to work on a learning path that’s conducive for their learning,” Associate Superintendent for K-12 School Transformation and Innovation, Dr. Valerie Cave, said.
Leaders admit there are still details they are figuring out like PPE for students and more but say it will all be focused around student safety.
“What I can assure you is that we make decisions based on what we know is best for children and for staff. We will not have a perfect solution for anyone, but it will be a perfect solution for many,” Dr. Levett said.
Dr. Levett says they are making contingency plans should someone within a school test positive for COVID-19. While the list is long- they are confident they will do what is best for students come this fall.
While the budget for the school year still remains unknown, school leaders say the safety changes they have made will cost the district a lot of money. While they will work towards reimbursement, they also have put aside money and know decisions will be needed down the line once the cost becomes clearer.