School district implements three-tiered plan to reopen in wake of COVID-19

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The St. Johns County School District is currently working to finalize its plan for reopening schools in the fall, as addressed by a June 11 virtual meeting.

Tim Forson, Superintendent of St. Johns County Schools presented a “draft” plan which includes three phases of reopening protocols based on infection rates. Forson said the models include a collection of ideas from local and state levels, along with discussions with principals and teacher representatives. Input was gathered from parent surveys, internal task force sub-groups, business leader meetings, small group principal meetings, FOCUS groups and a teacher advisory group.

In one survey gathered from 18,600 parents, 70% of respondents said they were comfortable with having their child return to school in the fall.

The collaboration meeting outlined “what schools will look like” in the fall.

Continuity guidelines are approached based the current status of COVID-19, including plans for low or no spread, minimal/moderate spread and substantial spread. Parents are also offered the ability to fully enroll their child in a virtual school, which is held by a semester basis and would involve a withdrawal from a zoned school.

During a period of low or no spread, learning would continue as normal under brick and mortar conditions, reverting to regular status.

In the event of a minimal to moderate spread of COVID-19, education would either continue traditionally or involve short term distance learning. During a substation spread of the virus, distance learning would continue across all levels with a potential closure by the district.

The school’s response across all levels of viral severity would include a “first tier” implementation of “cohort groups” for elementary schools and an “A/B schedules” for middle and high schools.

In cohort group, elementary classrooms will have restricted movement, limiting interaction outside of the room, including lunches and other activities. High schools and middle schools may enforce an “A/B schedule.” This refers to the student population being divided into two alphabetical groups, either attending Monday and Thursdays or Tuesdays and Fridays. Wednesdays are distance learning days.

On the week of June 29 - July 3, families will be asked to inform the district of their intent to return in the fall semester or enroll in the St. Johns Virtual School. Forson also said there will be another meeting toward the end of the summer to tighten the district’s plan. This would include revisiting details “parked” during the June 11 meeting, which included extracurricular activities, grading, mental health and food service.

“It is a world that is changing and very fluid and I want to recognize that moving forward,” Forson said.

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