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SPS announces ‘Return to Learn Plan’

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star
Students Masks

Students and teachers of Shawnee Public Schools are scheduled to begin their 2020-2021 school year Thursday, August 13, and the district has released details of its Return to Learn Plan.

According to Superintendent Dr. April Grace, the district has worked on its plan all summer and it relies heavily on the guidance of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control and the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

“Within the plan is an outline of education options, new procedures and enhanced safety protocols that were designed to meet the unique needs of our students and their families,” Grace said.

Grace said these safety protocols are intended to mitigate the risk of spreading and contracting COVID-19 as there is not yet a way to completely eliminate the possibility of getting the virus.

“The safety of our students, teachers and staff remains our top priority, and we are committed to providing learning environments where students can continue to learn and grow knowing that adults are working hard each and every day to protect them,” Grace said.

The administrator said the Return to Learn Plan covers several aspects, including the requirement of face masks for both teachers and students grades first through twelfth, wellness screenings, frequent cleanings of school sites and transportation vehicles, altered arrival and dismissal procedures, a flexible attendance plan and other such items.

In addition, Grace said the district will ensure students and teachers practice physical distancing in classrooms and common areas, proper hand washing hygiene and have limited group activities.

Finally, Grace said students will have three different options regarding what their education looks like this year.

In fact, Grace said the district recently made updates to its academic plan which still offers three educational pathways for students as the new year approaches, but it’s now more flexible.

"Our students' parents have given us feedback that they want more personalized opportunities for learning,” Grace said. “We have added even more flexibility to our three Educational Pathways to respond to the needs of our families."

Grace said all students enrolled are still automatically enrolled in the first education option which is a "traditional classroom learning pathway with digital learning days."

“Under the Traditional Classroom Learning Pathway (Option 1), parents who are worried about a five five day face-to-face educational experience for their students may now contact their school about a personalized, hybrid A/B rotating schedule,” Grace said. 

In this option, Grace said students will remain SPS students and they will have in-person social interactions with their peers and staff.

Students, Grace said, will also have immediate access to the district's learning resources such as libraries and other materials.

In addition, students will have 24-7 online access to submitted or graded assignments, can participate in school-sponsored athletic and fine arts programs and will have free transportation to and from school.

Grace said the second pathway is still virtual and online learning for students pre-K through twelfth grade who wish to continue their distance learning.

The final educational pathway was originally only applied to high school students, Grace said, but it’s still a "personal hybrid pathway." Grace said this option is a blend of on-site and online classes now for grades sixth through twelfth.

The administrator said SPS will keep monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and change its Return to Learn plan as needed.

“We will continue to take a measured, methodical and flexible approach to ensure we can adapt to situations and new scenarios as they arise,” Grace said. “Simply put, our plan almost certainly will change as the school year progresses and the situation continues to unfold.”

For more information and specific details of the Return to Learn Plan visit