JULY 24, 2020
FPS Virtual Option Announcement | 20-21 Issue 01
Please click below to watch a video update from Dr. Mueller about our FPS Reopening Doors Planning and the addition of a virtual option.
(3 min, 35 seconds)
REOPENING DOORS UPDATES FROM DR. MUELLER
Since sharing our FPS Reopening Doors plan with you two weeks ago, we have received valuable feedback around what the coming school year should look like for your children. We continue to remain flexible in our planning while at the same time aware that final decisions need to be made in order to ensure that we are fully ready to begin school on September 1st. I can assure you that as we are doing this difficult work, the well-being of your child and family are at the center of our conversations and planning.
When we shared our FPS Reopening Doors plan two weeks ago, we provided a high-level overview of our plan and the areas that needed to be addressed. Based on spring survey feedback around our virtual options, the high-quality instructional programming our community expects from us, and guidance from local and national health organizations, we felt the best option for the fall was to focus on in-person learning. This would also allow us to continue planning with our staff for going virtual in the event of a shutdown due to an outbreak of COVID-19. During the last month, our district leadership team and staff has continued to refine our educational programming, our universal precautions and safety protocols, and our communications to ensure that we are all prepared for what school will look like when we reopen our doors.
Since June, the spread of COVID-19 in Franklin has looked very different. The number of cases was lower than any other surrounding community. Since then, the number of COVID-19 cases significantly increased. With that increase, some of our families have reached out to share that while they believe the best place for their child to learn is at school, they are now having reservations about their children returning to an in-person environment. As promised, we have listened and remained open to the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19 and are now actively working on the details for a choice virtual learning program option.
On July 16th, we sent an enrollment and transportation survey to all families in the district. The survey included the following question “If available to all students without a medical note, would you be interested in committing to a fall virtual learning option for your child?” Over 3,000 responses were provided for this question, with around half of respondents indicating they would be interested in committing to a virtual option for their child.
WHAT WE ARE WORKING ON
Knowing that half of the respondents are interested in pursuing a virtual option, we are working to explore what’s possible. As you can imagine, figuring out the logistics, staffing, and needs for students around offering a virtual option are quite complex. At the forefront, is ensuring a high-quality virtual learning experience for students.
Last spring we had very little time to prepare and held virtual school as part of a statewide safer-at-home order. A choice virtual learning program this fall would not operate the same as last spring. It would be set up as a full-day program covering state required academic areas. In order to staff a virtual learning program, we would need to reassign some of our elementary teachers from their in-person classroom to work with students from across the district at each grade level. At the middle and high school levels, virtual classes would be offered and taught by teachers who are reassigned to the virtual learning program.
Our next step is to send you more detailed information next week regarding the structure and expectations of the virtual learning program. We will also share more about how we will approach COVID-19 exclusions, isolations, and quarantines for students who attend In-Person. All of this information is provided so you can be better informed to make your decision about which learning program is best for your child. If you choose to proceed with virtual learning, you will be asked to apply and commit to the program. Once we have the applications, we will determine if we can reassign staff to make it possible. Asking you to commit in early August is critical to our planning and the preparation time needed for our teachers.
WHAT ABOUT HOMEBOUND?
For those of you that started pursuing the Homebound Instructional program, we have always offered and will continue to offer that program as a support for those that have medical needs and need more assistance than In-Person or Virtual can offer. If you have already applied for Homebound, we will reach out to you and discuss your options in the coming days.
PATIENCE & PERSISTENCE
Figuring out all the details for this work feels a little like untangling a ball of yarn. It takes patience and persistence but absolutely can be done. I thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to work towards our common goal of providing students a Better Place to Learn, no matter where their learning is taking place.
As you wait for more information to come next week, please continue to check our FAQ page for more answers around FPS Reopening Doors. More Q&A will be updated on the website before today at 5pm.
Dr. Judy Mueller
Franklin Public Schools
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