School Board Adopts Plan “B” for Reopening

Macon County School Board photo by Vickie Carpenter

Diane Peltz, Contributing Writer

The Macon County School Board has decided to implement plan “B” with alternate live days, when students return on August 17. This plan was chosen after evaluating over 3,000 survey responses received from the district’s 4,500 students. 

Franklin area schools will be divided into “A” and “B” groups with half the students attending in person on Mondays and Wednesdays and the other half on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Fridays will still be a remote day for all students in order to sanitize the schools and busses. Franklin High School will see freshman and juniors attending on “A” days, while seniors and sophomores attend on “B” days. 

Union Academy, along with Nantahala School, will allow in-person attendance four days per week due to smaller enrollment numbers. Highlands School will follow suit after having two weeks of staggered attendance. Elementary students will attend in-person Monday through Thursday and high school students will be remote except for a Friday, when no other students are on campus during the first two weeks of school. 

Full remote learning/virtual academy (option “C”) will be available to the 860 students who requested it on the survey. Thirty teachers have signed up to teach the virtual academy. The logistics for the virtual academy are still being fine-tuned at this time. As it stands, principals are trying to match the grade level of students to qualified teachers. Virtual school is also slated to start on August 17. Parents will be contacted by phone or email by their child’s previous-year homeschool principal. Parents will be given instruction as to when to pick up their iPads. Calls are going out this week and next week as principals populate the class lists. 

There may be instances where there are very few students in the same grade who signed up for virtual academy; therefore, those students will be taught by a regular classroom teacher operating under plan “B” who will be responsible for in-person and virtual academy students alike. 

Electives such as art and music will be integrated into the core curriculum based on grade level. Students enrolled in plan “B” could end up with a teacher who is not present in the classroom due to their concern for being high risk. In this situation, a substitute or paraprofessional educator will monitor the class while the teacher instructs through a video screen. 

The survey also revealed that 36% of parents will be sending their child to school on the bus, which will allow one child per seat. High school students will not be permitted to ride the bus during the first week of school in order for districts to work out a feasible bus schedule that could accompany all students. 

IPads will be handed out on the first day of school to all students choosing to attend live sessions at school. 

The board also made a motion, which was approved, to set the week of September 7th as a virtual week for all students in order to reevaluate how things stand at that point. 

As more information becomes available, emails and phone calls will be sent out to parents in order to keep them informed.