October 30, 2020 – — Students from PreK through 12th grade in Decatur Public Schools will continue to participate in virtual learning only for the remainder of the second quarter of the 2020-21 school year.
The second quarter ends on December 18, 2020.
“This was a difficult decision to make, as we know it’s very important to get our students back in the classroom. Nothing can replace the live interaction students get in person with their teachers and their peers,” said Dr. Paul Fregeau, Superintendent of Decatur Public Schools. “However, we also know that the health of our community is an essential factor in making our decision, and right now those health factors don’t support bringing our students back to in-person learning.”
DPS administration says they continue to work with principals, teachers, and staff to plan for a return to in-person learning, which could happen as early as the beginning of the third quarter on January 4, 2021. However, school officials will continue to monitor community health factors to make that determination. An announcement will be made on Friday, December 4, 2020, about third-quarter learning.
In-Person vs. Virtual Learning Selection A form is available now in Skyward Family Access that families MUST complete if they want students to participate in in-person learning once it becomes available. Families must select from the following options for each of their students:
● Selecting in-person learning will inform your school that you intend to send your student to school in person for the days they are assigned, with virtual learning continuing for the other days of the week.
● Selecting to remain in virtual learning only will inform your school that you intend to have your student remain at home, with a focus on independent assignments with limited face-to-face interaction. Students for whom a selection is not made will automatically be placed in virtual learning only. Students MAY NOT participate in in-person learning at school until a selection is made for that student in Skyward. If you think you would like your student to participate in in-person learning, please make that selection on the form. You can always change your preference back to virtual learning only, but it will be much more difficult to plan for your student’s in-person attendance if you do not make that selection. This form has been available for several weeks — parents who have already made their selection and do not wish to change it don’t need to do anything.
For parents who have not entered the form to make their selection, or those who wish to change their selection, that MUST be done by Friday, November 13, 2020, so that we can better plan for a possible return to in-person learning.
Families who need assistance completing the form should call their student’s school as soon as possible. In-Person Learning DPS continues to plan for a return to in-person instruction. The TENTATIVE plan is that students who select to return in person will be divided into two groups, A and B. To get students and staff acclimated to in-person learning, which will look very different in our schools than it did at this time last year, each group will begin with attending school in-person one day per week.
The following is an example of what a week on this abbreviated hybrid schedule would look like:
This abbreviated hybrid schedule would continue until it is determined safe to return to a more robust in-person schedule, at which time all students who select in-person learning would return to school four days each week.
For parents/guardians who do select in-person learning, DPS encourages as many families as possible to provide their student transportation to and from school. While DPS will continue to provide transportation for qualified students as needed, providing your own transportation to and from school will significantly minimize the number of students on school buses, helping promote social distancing. If you are able to provide your own transportation for your student, please make that selection as well on the in-person learning form in Skyward Family Access.
Support for Students
We do know that virtual learning continues to be a challenge for many students and families. In-person appointments are available at all DPS schools for students with IEPs, English learners, and students who specifically request in-person assistance and/or tutoring from their teachers. We’re also creating a section on the Return to Learn webpage with resources available in our community to help support students’ social-emotional needs, as well as organizations your student can get involved in to stay active.
Return to Learn Webpage
The Decatur Public Schools Return to Learn webpage is updated frequently with the latest information about learning plans, plus resources for families in making decisions and helping support students. That website is available at www.dps61.org/returntolearn. Some details of the plan are still being determined in conjunction with the District’s collective bargaining units, so we ask for patience and understanding as we continue to work through these details. We also know that the COVID-19 positivity rate in our county and region changes daily, so planning for the future of instruction for DPS students must remain fluid as well.
Listen to the podcast with Dr. Paul Fregeau on Byers & Co: