At a press conference on Aug. 12, Enterprise Superintendent Greg Faught and Enterprise High School Principal Stan Sauls revealed plans to move the high school and junior high schools to a blended learning plan beginning Aug. 21.
EHS, Dauphin Junior High and Coppinville Junior High will all participate in a remote learning day on Aug. 21 and then begin a staggered schedule for on-campus learning on Aug. 24.
Elementary school students will continue to attend on-campus instruction like normal.
Students with last names beginning with the letter A through K will have on-campus instruction on Mondays and Wednesdays and remote learning on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Students with last names beginning with the letter L through Z will have on-campus instruction on Tuesdays and Thursdays with remote learning on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Teachers will be on campus Monday through Friday to teach on-campus and virtually.
This decision comes after 121 ECS students were sent home in the first week of school due to COVID-19 guidelines. However, only 27 of those students actually had two or more symptoms of COVID-19 and only three tested positive for the virus, according to Faught.
Because of new guidelines from the state, issued last week, all students that are within six feet for 15 minutes or more of any student that is sent home due to COVID-19 symptoms should quarantine for 14 days before returning to school. That means that 91 healthy ECS students were sent home. Faught emphasized that social media posts about an “outbreak” at ECS were unfounded.
“Our initial fears about healthy students being sent home because of close contact (with a student with symptoms) has come to fruition,” Faught said. “From what I understand there is a lot of stuff on Facebook about us having outbreaks and things like that but that is just not the case.”
Faught said that doctors believe the three students – two high school students and a Coppinville student – that tested positive are believed to have been infected before school even began.
Faught and Sauls said that a blended schedule would give the school system the opportunity to distance students more to avoid healthy students being sent home.
“We are quite confident that a blended schedule is going to help us with distancing in class so that healthy kids that aren’t having any symptoms are able to stay in class should one of their classmates begin to exhibit two or more symptoms,” Faught said.
Additionally, all students that are involved in extracurricular activities – like football or band – will be allowed to attend their class in person each day for that sport or activity.
For example, football players have one block each day that is “football class” designed for film study, weight lifting and things of that nature. Those athletes will still be permitted to come to their designated block each day for that class.
Also, transportation will still be available for students.
“This is something that will also help us to be able to social distance more on the school buses, too,” Sauls said.
Lunches will also be made available for students on remote learning days at drop-off points in various neighborhoods, as was done during the summer and last spring.
Sauls commended ECS administrators Josh Robertson and Leigh Shiver for spearheading the team that came up with the staggered learning plan.
Faught said that the decision to allow elementary students to remain on-campus was in small part because many parents can’t stay at home with their children to do remote learning at that age, while parents are more comfortable with junior high and high school aged students staying home and doing remote learning on their own.
“That is a small but very important reason why we aren’t doing (blended learning) for the elementary students,” Faught said. “Another reason is that students in kindergarten through second grade are emerging readers, and it’s critical that they receive that instruction every day.
”Students in third, fourth, fifth and sixth grade are burgeoning readers beginning to learn fluency, stamina and comprehension, which are very, very important to their futures. We feel like, as of right now, that it is better to keep them on that regular schedule.”
Elementary students also stay in one class all day rather than changing between classes like junior high and high school.
Sauls said that the school is also looking into a program that will help free and reduced learners that don’t have broadband internet obtain high speed internet with more information on that program to come.
Also, Faught said that students that chose to do remote learning for the first semester would be allowed to participate in the blended schedule if parents want that option. A date and time for signing up for that will be released in the coming weeks.
Additionally, special education teachers and case managers will make decisions on how special education students will attend school on a case-by-case basis.
“We are committed to providing our special education students with the best education possible based on their individualized needs,” Special Education Director Joylee Cain said. “As we make this transition on the secondary level, special education teachers are in the process of reaching out to the parents or guardians of the students on their caseload to discuss their child’s individualized education services.”