Despite many unknowns created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Polk County Schools has been working diligently to prepare for the 2020-2021 school year. I wanted to provide a brief update to our students and families about what we know at this point and how we are planning for students to return on August 17.
There is still a great deal of uncertainty regarding how the school year will open and what rules and guidelines will be in place for students and school districts. The current rules and guidelines issued by North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the State Board of Education and the Department of Public Instruction continue to be changed and modified.
Governor Roy Cooper did announce Thursday that he will release his plan for reopening schools next week, so we should have clearer guidelines at that time.
What we already know is that we have been tasked with developing three different reopening plans:
- Plan A would be similar to traditional school with students attending in person and special attention given to monitoring student and staff health and social distancing
- Plan B will require more social distancing and a possible reduction in the number of students coming to school each day
- Plan C will be completely remote with no students on campuses.
With Plan A or B, we know there will be a number of requirements and rules that will change certain aspects of how students and staff navigate the school environment and interact with each other. Some of these new procedures and protocols may be unpopular and inconvenient, but they are all being developed and implemented to ensure the safety and well being of our students and staff. As these requirements and rules continue to change and evolve, we are adjusting our plans accordingly.
Polk County Schools will also be sending out more surveys to get your thoughts and input to help inform our plans. Please be on the lookout for those surveys and participate so we can better understand your concerns and needs. We will be using your input to help guide our work. We must all understand that we may have to change course quickly if the pandemic causes a shift in student access or our guidance. We are committed to providing the best educational services we can for our students no matter which plan we are mandated to implement.
Though these plans are not finalized and will continue to evolve, I do want to share more information about how we are planning to provide instructional services beyond the classroom walls.
Polk County Schools is the process of creating Wolverine Academy. This program will provide online and remote learning opportunities for students whose families are concerned about their child returning to the traditional school environment.
We feel strongly that the best learning takes place in person, in our school classrooms, with a qualified and caring local teacher. But we also recognize the need to provide another option for our families if they choose not to have their student return to school in the fall.
Wolverine Academy will offer classes and instructional services for all grade levels in both online and remote formats, with resources and access to local Polk County teachers. For those without reliable internet access, Wolverine Academy will be providing paper and pencil materials and lessons with one of our outstanding Polk County teachers giving support via telephone or in-person meetings. Those with ample online access can participate in virtual coursework, lessons, and receive resources with one of our Polk County teachers leading instruction and supporting students.
We encourage all our families who may be considering other online or remote options to stay enrolled with Polk County Schools and to take advantage of Wolverine Academy at no cost. It will be created and led by our outstanding educators, and students will be connected to a local teacher who knows them and is dedicated to their success. We believe Wolverine Academy will be a better option than other online services or schools.
We are also planning to provide instructional support and course access options to our community homeschool students via Wolverine Academy. We will be getting more information out to parents in the coming weeks as we continue its development. You are encouraged to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-894-3051 if you would like to discuss the Wolverine Academy option.
I realize that the unknown and uncertainty of the future can be very disconcerting to students, families and parents. Rest assured that Polk County Schools stands ready to meet the challenges of the new academic year with you. We will all need to be patient, flexible and focused on the needs of our students.
We look forward to a great year, and we will have lots of opportunities to grow and support each other. We are fortunate to have great community support for our schools and students.
We hope you continue to enjoy your summer, and stay tuned for more Back to School details coming your way!