SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah-Chatham County Public School System Superintendent Dr. Ann Levett and district staff addressed questions about the back-to-school plans for the upcoming school year.
You can watch the news conference below:
SCCPSS announced last week they would delay the start of school to August 19th and begin virtually.
Tuesday, the district released more information on what that will look like for students.
Though schedules are still being developed, Savannah-Chatham leadership gave us a better idea of what a day in the life of virtual school may look like.
Leaders say students’ days will vary based on their specific grade level, but it won’t look traditional to the in-class experience though they will be learning and graded.
They have several new resources that they didn’t have in the spring.
One is the Learning Management System, which can be used by administrators, teachers, and families.
It creates reports on student activity, alerts about grading, and even offers resources that can be accessed via an app for a smart phone.
Academic affair leaders say a typical day virtually can include morning announcements, mini instructional sessions, tutorials, discussion boards and even mental breaks.
While they know this is virtual learning, they say the whole day will not be spent on a screen.
“So, what we really want to make clear is that students are not just sitting at a screen. Again, that direct instruction may be 10-20 minutes so for example a Pre-K schedule may encompass four hours that day, but screen time may only be encompassed about an hour. It could encompass 40 minutes. It depends on the lessons for some of our, and I’ll go to the high school group, it may be that screen time actually during the day could encompass one hour, maybe an hour and 20 minutes, but actual time spent with independent lessons, maybe tutorials, small groups could be five hours, five and a half that’s not their screen time,” SCCPSS’s Bernadette Ball-Oliver said.
As far as attendance goes for the virtual school days, leaders say students will be counted when they are participating in active instruction.
When it comes to students who have special accommodations, they have differentiated learning plans, support staff and even specialized hotlines for behavior concerns, IEP’s and more.
As Savannah-Chatham students will return to school virtually, thousands of Chromebooks will be needed to conduct classes online.
School system leaders know getting devices and internet to students is critical. They ordered 14,400 Chromebooks in June and expect them to arrive in August.
Leaders say parents will be contacted with a time and place to pick the devices up curbside when they are ready. When it comes to internet access, the district is also working on this.
They have 10 smart buses they will deploy in Chatham County, but are still figuring out where to place those and what hours they will be available.
District leaders say they also have more than 300 MiFis, or portable internet devices, to help students and schools are working to identify families in need.
This year with school looking different so too is registration. Parents can do it all online and then will be issued their devices.
“It is very important because the first day of school is not going to be the same as it used it be where we would dedicate labs for parents to come in and register their child. Everything now has changed because of COVID-19 so it is very vital for parents to register their child online, the whole thing can be done without having to enter the building.”
As school leaders are planning for a virtual start to the year, Superintendent Dr. Levett did stress they want to be back in school when it’s safe.
She says they have no date set, but it will take the whole community to do bring students back to the classroom. She says data drives dates and urges people to wear a mask, wash your hands and practice social distancing.