South Summit Goes Back to School
South Summit School District superintendent says the district is as ready as it can be – as it prepares to open its school - navigating uncharted waters in the midst of a pandemic. KPCW’s Leslie Thatcher has more.
Parents and students at South Summit were asked to register for one of three different learning options this year. The district is offering a choice of a 100% online regimen, homeschooling, and a classroom hybrid.
Superintendent Shad Sorenson says the majority of students will be back at school. Preliminary estimates show that 70% of students are choosing the in-class hybrid model – with the other 30% either doing homeschool or online.
“At our South Summit schools, we’re doing a four day in- class, one-day blended learning option,” he said. “And then at our Silver Summit Academy, we're doing 2 days in class and then the remainder days blended learning. And then we have an online option that is through the district, and then of course, the parents can choose home school if they want to go that route.”
He says they will do their best to create safe classrooms.
“In our school plan, we acknowledge that we would do our best. We're moving out furniture that isn’t critical to the curriculum – we’re spacing the desks as much as possible but there may be situations where students aren't at the six-foot distance,” Sorenson said. “We are requiring masks per the governor's executive order and students will be facing forward as much as possible. And then we've got personal protective gear, plexiglass dividers, and things like that that we're putting into place for those situations where the student the teacher or the para-educator need to be face-to-face to be able to serve that student appropriately.”
Sorenson says they surveyed their teachers about how they’d like to return to the classroom and the district is doing its best to honor those wishes. He knows not everyone is comfortable with the choices.
“I wish I could say that there wasn't any faculty concern at all, but everybody is concerned about their family members at home—whether they're taking care of aging parents whether they're taking care of immunocompromised family that live within their household, everybody worries and we don't have all the answers,” he said. “And so, there is always a little bit of doubt not only for your own personal protection, but for those that you care about.”
The idea behind no students at school on Wednesdays he says is to be able to go into the schools and do a deep clean every week. The schedule also offers some last-minute backup if needed.
“We wanted our faculty and our students to be able to work with the curriculum online, work with the programs, and then to be able to prepare on Monday and Tuesday for that. Then come back on Thursday and Friday and address any of those concerns on those issues so that both teachers and students, if we have to go with minimal notice two more days at home, or half the students at home, that we're going to be able to do that seamlessly rather than the challenge that last spring brought to us.”
Due to new growth, the district will have to bring in a portable classroom for this school year – although it hasn’t arrived yet. The school board is moving ahead with its master planning. They’re now considering whether to build a new school at the base of Promontory in Silver Creek, and whether they can sell off any of their existing property to use the proceeds for capital and building projects.