Springfield Public Schools announces in-school learning plan beginning in November

Students walking in Springfield Public Schools hallway
Students walking in Springfield Public Schools hallway(KY3)
Published: Oct. 14, 2020 at 1:11 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Springfield Public Schools released its plan to return most grades to in-school learning in November.

Here’s the plan from the district:

Key Points:

  1. K-2 students will attend school four days, beginning Nov. 2.
  2. Students in grades 3-8 will attend school four days, beginning Nov. 9.
  3. Wednesdays will remain a district-wide virtual learning day from home.
  4. There are no changes for students in grades 9-12 or those enrolled in the Virtual learning option.
  5. Students must remain in their current learning option until the end of the first semester.

Springfield Public Schools, working in collaboration with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, will make an adjustment to learning option schedules for the second quarter. Students in grades K-8 who are enrolled in the In-Person Learning Option will begin attending school four days a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday) during the second quarter. Wednesdays will remain a virtual learning day to allow for facilities throughout the district to undergo thorough cleaning.

For students in grades K-2, the schedule adjustment will take effect Nov. 2, while students in grades 3-8 will begin their four day schedule Nov. 9. This phased-in adjustment will pave the way for a return to a regular five days of in-person learning for grades K-8 at the start of the second semester in January.

The In-Person Learning Option for students in grades 9-12 will remain unchanged for the second quarter. In addition, there will be no change for students enrolled in the Virtual Learning Option.

“The district promised parents and staff in August that we would evaluate data at the end of the first quarter to determine if we could add more days of in-person learning in the classroom,” said Dr. John Jungmann, superintendent. “Our goal has always been to welcome more students back to school as soon as we had gathered enough data to determine it was safe to proceed. Data from the first quarter indicates that our health and safety protocols are working to limit exposure to COVID-19 in the learning environment. Transmission of COVID-19 within the school setting, especially among our younger students, is very low. We believe the ongoing academic and social needs of our students warrant an adjustment at this time and moving to a four-day week will provide much-needed support for our students.”

While there will be reduced social distancing with more students in the classroom, the district will maintain other health and safety protocols that have proven successful thus far, including required face coverings, frequent hand washing, additional supplies and increased cleaning of facilities. In addition, SPS will expand its contact tracing team, provide new options to help with physical distancing, and identify additional substitutes to strengthen support for staffing.

Schedule Details for Scholars, WINGS and Students with IEPs

Adjustments to learning option schedules for students in grades K-8 will impact the following SPS programs, with more information to be provided to families soon.

  • Springfield Scholars Program: Beginning Nov. 9, Scholars students enrolled in the In-Person option at Central High School will attend classes in person four days a week. Wednesday will remain a virtual learning day from home. Scholars students enrolled in the Virtual Learning Option will remain virtual.
  • WINGS: Students enrolled in In-Person learning will begin receiving their gifted services virtually on Wednesdays, beginning Nov. 4. WINGS students who are enrolled in the Virtual option will continue to receive gifted services virtually. Please note that the WINGS schedule is subject to change.
  • Individualized Education Plans (IEPs): Parents of students learning with an IEP will be contacted directly, beginning this week, to discuss necessary modifications.

Selection of Learning Options for Second Semester

As previously communicated, students are expected to remain in their selected learning option, either In-Person or Virtual, through the end of the first semester. Students will soon be offered an opportunity to modify their learning option for the second semester, which begins in January. Parents will receive information about that process in early November.

Background on Decision to Adjust Learning Option Schedules

SPS has closely monitored regional and peer school districts to assess re-entry planning. All regional peers are offering in-person learning five days a week for grades K-8. Of the largest peer districts statewide, seven are now open for in-person learning five days a week for grades K-5. Three of Missouri’s largest districts are now open for in-person learning five days a week for grades K-12.

The district sought feedback from staff, parents, students and the community through a Thought Exchange open from Sept. 28 through Oct. 2. More than 6,800 individuals participated, sharing over 9,300 thoughts and generating more than 319,000 thought ratings.

With a PreK-12 enrollment of 23,500 students and 3,500 staff, SPS has experienced approximately 200 cases of COVID-19 since Aug. 24, resulting in the quarantine of more than 1,200 students and staff. SPS requires face coverings, physical distancing, increased cleaning of facilities, and immediate quarantine for any direct contact of a positive case. As a result, a vast majority of positive cases have been isolated and contained to the original positive case. Transmission in schools remains low.

Clay Goddard, director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, issued the following statement regarding the SPS plan to modify learning option schedules:

  • “There are no easy answers in this pandemic. However, we are encouraged by the low disease transmission rates among those in 8th grade and under. This is important evidence as we weigh the harm of the disease versus the harm for those who risk falling behind or not accessing important resources for their health and well-being. For these reasons, we support a 5-day class structure for students 8th grade and lower. SPS has done the right things based on evidence, best practice and a dedication to the safety and well-being of students, faculty and staff this year. We will continue to be a resource as we navigate this fluid situation together.”
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