By Chance Chamberlain
The Harrisonville R-9 School District announced last week a changeable course of action for the Aug. 24 start of school. The plans include both an in-person and virtual learning program to accommodate for every circumstance. District personnel have spent the last few months building the plan to ensure it is successful.
Superintendent Paul Mensching said, “We have spent a great deal of time the past two months considering what school will look like in the fall. We want to create a quality and meaningful learning experience for our students, while also making sure that we maintain a safe learning environment.
“We’d like to emphasize that our Back-to-School Plan is a ‘living’ document, meaning that it will change as situations, circumstances and public health guidelines, change,” he said.
The back-to-school plan offers an in-person option that includes block scheduling for Harrisonville Middle School, Harrisonville High School and the Cass Career Center. The elementary schools will operate classrooms as individual groups with limited interactions with other classes. In-person action also includes social distancing when possible, use of face coverings by students and staff, frequent hand washing and sanitization, regular disinfection of the buildings and absolutely no visitors.
Elementary students will be assigned a classroom teacher and will attend school according to the district calendar. Interactions with other classrooms will be limited and strictly monitored. Middle school and high school students will be assigned a schedule and will also attend according to the district calendar.
Daily procedures and guidelines for in-person operation are in place and the district will utilize multiple layers of protection for staff and students. Each school will follow CDC, state and local guidelines of practicing social distancing wearing face coverings and staying home if sick.
Staff will be trained in COVID-19 safety protocols. They will check temperatures daily, stay home when sick, teach and enforce social distancing, disinfect classrooms regularly and will monitor student temperatures and check for symptoms regularly.
Students are responsible for practicing regular hand washing and sanitization. They are required to practice social distancing and wear a face covering when social distancing is unavailable. Students are also responsible for alerting staff when they feel symptoms arise.
The virtual learning program developed by the Harrisonville School District is based on the model from the spring 2020 semester, with additional measures applied. There are three different course load outlines available depending on the grade a student is enrolled in.
Grades four through 12 will be via a software called Odysseyware. Odysseyware is a self-paced software where students can complete material at their own pace. District teachers will select lessons based on the Missouri Learning Standards which will be covered in the first semester. HHS students enrolled virtually will enroll in same courses students will take in the in-person environment.
HMS students will enroll in core classes with limited elective credits and McEowen students will enroll in core classes. Each school will have at least one administrator and one teacher as the virtual learning coordinator. Students who participate in virtual learning are eligible for MSHSAA activities as long as they meet all other MSHSAA guidelines.
Grades one through three will use a software called Launch, which is taught by Missouri teachers using the Missouri Learning Standards. Students will be part of a virtual classroom with students from around Missouri and classes will include core classes and specials. The platform supports six hours of daily teacher support programming via videos, activities and projects. A Harrisonville Elementary School staff member will be the Launch coordinator for families.
Kindergarten students will be taught by a Harrisonville Early Childhood Center teacher using Google Classroom to provide instruction through videos, worksheets and online games. In-person meetings will take place using Google Meet.
Students who choose virtual learning will automatically receive 94 percent attendance for completing all assigned coursework. High school students who participate in virtual learning will earn 95 percent attendance for the A+ Program. In-person attendance will be counted as normal. There will be no attendance incentives or awards this year.
In the event a student that tests positive or schools close, the district has developed a four-stage virtual learning model. The model will include teacher-led instruction, grade-level standard material, regular assessments, graded work and a scheduled timetable for completion of material.
In the event a student would be excluded from in-person teaching due to a positive test or exposure, during the quarantine period, the student will engage in regular coursework via Google Classroom. They will work directly with their teacher(s) to continue to complete regularly assigned coursework.
In the event schools would close down, students would continue education using Google Classroom. This model allows district teachers to continue lessons while maintaining a schedule much like a regular school day.
Parents were asked to submit their preference for in-school or virtual for their students Aug. 5.
Mensching said, “Despite the uncertain times and ever-changing situation, we are focused on ensuring the health and safety of our students and staff and providing the best possible learning experiences in the environment that you feel is best for your student.
“We appreciate your continued support and we will do all we can to support you – our families and students – throughout these challenging times,” he said.
The full back-to-school plan is available to view at http://www.harrisonvilleschools.org/
backtoschool2020. All procedures and scenarios are listed and a downloadable PDF is available.