Districts settle on Sept. 9 start
Marion County school districts are hoping to buy teachers and staff precious time to prepare by setting a Sept. 9 start date for most county schools.
At the same time, they are planning for the possibility of having to switch back to distance learning if circumstances require. Area superintendents say the delay from normal August start dates, will help them ready their buildings for safety and their teachers for distance learning if the pandemic worsens and schools need to operate remotely.
Goessel’s school board approved a start date of Sept. 2 Tuesday evening. All other county schools will open Sept. 9.
Aaron Homburg, Marion superintendent said school board members unanimously favored the September opening.
Staff members are discussing everything, including lunch rooms, but nothing is set in stone.
“When our calendar was built in January and February, it was a totally different time,” he said. “This time we need training and professional development protocols in place so that staff and students are safe.”
Ronald Traxson, Peabody-Burns superintendent, said this year’s new calendar would move staff training days to the beginning of the year.
“Teachers need to have a lot of their lessons prepared in case we have to do any remote learning,” he said.
When students return, administrators want the environment to be “as controlled as possible.”
Peabody-Burns is fortunate to have a small number of students and adequate room to spread out, he said. Early plans designate a gym for cafeteria overflow during the lunch hour to allow social distancing in upper grades.
Elementary students will stay in their classrooms and eat lunch there, he said.
“They already eat breakfast in their classrooms They can take lunch their also,” he said.
According to Hillsboro superintendent Max Heinrichs, many teachers and staff see a need to build a relationship of trust with students who haven’t been in school.
“They have been out of the building for six months,” he said. “That’s a long time. We need to work a lot on building relationships so if we need to go remote and distance learning our people are better prepared.”
Teachers are working on how to effectively deliver their lessons.
“That is really important, as we will be asked to be accountable for the learning that happens,” he said.
The district used Zoom in spring, but Heinrichs said other platforms were being discussed. In the meantime, staff members are batting about ideas for making the most of the space available in Hillsboro’s schools to allow for social distancing.
“Our biggest goal is for our buildings to be safe as possible for students and staff who reenter them to go to school,” he said.