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Mears talks about School year 2020

Kevin Boyer
Washington County News

BONIFAY - Superintendent Terry Mears said the 2020 school year is fast approaching and the district is in high gear amid ever changing guidelines from state level on how the 2020 school year will proceed.

Mears said the district decided to push the start date back to the 19th due to the learning management system would not be ready on the original start date.

“We were guaranteed our LMS on the 7th,“ Mears said. ”Well teachers come back on the 10th... I didn’t think that would give them enough time to prepare lesson plans and feel comfortable with it.“

Mears said one thing the district will be doing this year include having a home virtual school which will allow students to be taught from their home by a teacher in the district. Mears said his concern with students taking online courses, another option for the county, is that students may be taught by teachers in other districts as far as Miami. Mears said if students were taught online by teachers outside the county it could have had an effect on the employments of teachers in the county, which is something he wanted to avoid. He said for students who return to schools, the classrooms will be set up to adhere to the social distancing as much as possible and traffic in the schools will be coordinated to where students will not be likely to intermingle with each other in the halls. Mears also said buses, which will operate as 75 percent capacity, will not run air conditioners and will have the windows open to allow for ventilation and clean air. As of Friday, ninety percent of all students wanted to return to schools Mears said based on a survey done.

Mears said they will have mechanisms in place to help monitor COVID in the schools including an isolation location for those who experience symptoms. He said the bus drivers will not be checking temperatures at the time of pickup as he said it was not feasible.

“We can’t leave a kindergartner on the side of Highway 79 because their temperature may be a little high,” Mears said. “Lot of factors go into that, standing out in the heat will raise your body temp. So it is not feasible for us to check temps at time of pickup because we may not get an accurate reading.”

Mears said right now one big thing that the schools can do this year is to educate the students on COVID and the need to social distancing.

“Kids are going to be kid’s he said,” he said. “Kids don’t understand it but you have to educate them.”

Mears said he is proud of the district, which has shown progress in their education where other counties have digressed. He noted that the district was ranked fourth in the Panhandle Area Education Association. He also noted that the graduation rate has climbed sixteen percent recently.

As the school year progresses Mears said they will be inevitable bumps in the road and asks for the community’s patience and support. He said his main concern is that when students return to schools this month, they are able to do it safely and as comfortably as possible.

“As superintendent it is my job to make sure they are safe.” he said. “I think if we adhere to our guidelines we will keep our community safe.”