SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Savannah-Chatham Board of Education met Friday morning for a special meeting to assess plans for the second semester.
The recommendation given to the board by the Academic Affairs team was to continue on with the current Phase 3 Hybrid-Expanded learning model. In a 6 to 3 vote, the board voted to approve this.
According to the board, this means all the staff, except those with underlying conditions, will be required to return to school by Jan. 4.
Waitlist students will receive in-person learning based on the return of the teachers. Additional students who are requesting in-person learning will be considered based on capacity limitations per social distancing guidelines.
“That changes the number of students we can take care of and should increase them greatly. We’re planning, right now, for 50 percent virtual and 50 percent in-person,” Board President Dr. Joe Buck said.
In the next five days, the board says parents will be surveyed again. If they initially chose virtual learning, they could make a switch to in-person through completion of the survey.
With this model, virtual learning will still be an option for families for the rest of the school year.
“The safety of their child is the most important thing to them and the safety of all of those children is the most important thing to me,” Dr. Buck said.
Dr. Buck says this is a district-wide decision, but some decisions could be made on a school-by-school basis.
“As principals start to work with the results of the questionnaire, what you will see is that some schools might do things in a little bit different way based on their desires of their numbers of parents,” Dr. Buck said.
The president of the Savannah Federation of Teachers says this decision is “disturbing.”
Theresa Watson, with the Savannah Federation of Teachers, says teachers shouldn’t be required to go back to school, but that it should be their choice. Watson says she feels some won’t be able to teach well in an environment they’re not comfortable in.
“I understand the underlying medical conditions, that’s one factor. But what about the people who are dealing with the anxiety, the fear. Will they be able to respectively be able to go into a classroom and teach children fully like they’re supposed to,” Watson said.
The earliest date of in-person learning for the second semester will be Jan. 11, 2021.