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Elizabethton City Schools adjusts opening date… COVID-19 case increase causes the school system to change start date

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
With a daily increase in COVID-19 cases in Carter County and after conversations with local health officials, Mr. Richard Van Huss released a statement today advising that the original start date of August 5th will be changed to a teacher workday and that students would be doing a staggered re-entry which will start on August 10th.
 
The statement from Van Huss in its entirety reads as follows:
 
Elizabethton City School System made the decision today to change the school re-opening plan for the 2020-2021 school year. We firmly believe there is no substitute for the face to face learning that takes place in the classrooms of ECS and are committed to safely reopening.
That being said, infection rates have continued to rise in our community over the last two weeks. The data from the Epi Curve metric, which gauges the average number of new cases per 100,000 county residents for the last 14 days and which the ECS Re-entry Plan uses to inform decisions as it pertains to school opening status, has continued to trend upward.
As we have said, this metric is only one piece of data we will use throughout the school year to assist us in making decisions. After considering this data and consulting with officials from both the Carter County and Regional Health Departments, we feel it is necessary to make the following modifications to the start of the 2020-2021 school year.
Adjusting the calendar will allow time for the implementation of community safety measures to mitigate the spread of the virus. Social distancing, wearing a mask, and frequent hand washing continue to be the most effective measures we can take to reduce infection rates.

Wednesday, August 5th, the scheduled first half day for students will be changed to a teacher’s workday. 

We will begin with a staggered student re-entry plan. This plan will divide our student body alphabetically. All students, including those who choose the Distance Learning Track, will be invited to attend.

This will allow for students to meet teachers, pick up materials, and receive technical training on Partners for Digital, our online curriculum platform, as well as Google Classroom while maintaining appropriate social distancing measures.

Please view the Elizabethton City Schools website www.ecschools.net for the staggered re-entry starting Monday, August 10th through Friday, August 14th.  Based on discussions with health and school officials, a determination will be made on how to proceed with instruction beginning Monday, August 17th.

Implementing these changes gives us the best opportunity to safely re-open for Traditional Learning Track students. It will allow us time to evaluate the effectiveness of our community’s virus mitigation efforts.

Moving forward, we will meet every Thursday with health department officials to discuss the impact of the virus on our community and how that impacts our schools.

We will rely heavily on the health department’s analysis of community data when making decisions. If you have more questions or concerns, please contact your child’s school. Thank you for your patience during this difficult time.

A break down for August 5th and for the week of August 10th through August 14th is as follows:

Wednesday, August 5th

The scheduled first half day for students will be changed to a teacher’s workday.  This will provide teachers with a full week to prepare lessons, complete professional development training, and meet with teachers to plan for the school year.

This teacher workday will be moved from the workday scheduled on May 25th.  May 25th will become the student’s last half-day of the year.  May 24th will become a full student day.

 Monday, August 10th through Friday, August 14th

We will begin with a staggered student re-entry plan.  This plan will divide our student body alphabetically.  All students, including those who choose the Distance Learning Track, will be invited to attend. 

This will allow for students to meet teachers, pick up materials, and receive technical training on Partners for Digital, our online curriculum platform, as well as Google Classroom while maintaining appropriate social distancing measures.

Each section of the alphabet will only attend in-person classes on their selected day during this week.  The schedule is as follows:

-Monday, August 10th:  Students with last name beginning with A-D

-Tuesday, August 11th:  Students with last name beginning with E-H

-Wednesday, August 12th:  Students with last name beginning with I-M

-Thursday, August 13th:  Students with last name beginning with N-R

-Friday, August 14th:  Students with last name beginning with S-Z

Since all students will only attend one day this week, 4 inclement weather days will be used to account for these days. Professional Development days scheduled for later in the year may be converted to inclement weather days if needed

Based on discussions with health and school officials,  a determination will be made on how to proceed with instruction beginning Monday, August 17th.