STAY OR GO: DICKSON COUNTY SCHOOLS ASKS PARENTS IF THEIR KIDS ARE RETURNING IN THE FALL

By Dave Barkholz

As Dickson County Schools wrestles with how it will reopen schools on August 3, it is surveying the parents of students to see if they’ll be returning in the fall. The survey launched Monday.
The pivotal question in the 10-question survey is whether the parents intend to send their children back to school in the new school year or not.
Another key question asks whether parents would prefer for their kids to learn at home rather than return to school if a distance-learning option is available.
Robbie Faulkner, director of secondary education for Dickson County Schools, said decisions about schools, bus routes and technology will be informed by the survey.
The survey, however, does not ask about parent attitudes toward the other options that the district is considering for the fall.
In addition to reopening with a normal five-day week in the classroom, Dickson County Schools Director Danny Weeks has said the district, depending on social-distancing guidance, might offer classes only online or under a hybrid scenario.
Those scenarios would combine one or two days of classroom work for students with the remaining days online.
Working parents have expressed concerns about how they could find childcare under those scenarios.
There is no question asking parents if they would or could return their children to Dickson County Schools under an alternative schedule.
Dickson County Schools has about 8,300 students at 16 schools.
Another survey question asks if parents plan to use bus transportation. That could become important if the coronavirus threat continues to require social-distancing. A fully-load standard school bus hold about 85 students.
If six-feet of distancing is required, that capacity is reduced by two-thirds as every other row is skipped and only one child per seat is permitted. Reduced bus capacity would make it much more likely that the district would have to schedule students on alternating days in the classroom, assuring a hybrid schedule.
The survey also asks whether parents have Internet and devices upon which to do lessons.
Faulkner reiterated that the district plans for open to a full, five-day classroom setting in the fall. But that will depend on the spread of the coronavirus in the community.
Parents and teachers alike will be affected by childcare needs if an alternative to a normal opening is required, she said. Faulkner encouraged parents to start thinking now about childcare under the various contingencies.
The survey can be viewed at https://docs.google.com/…/1IWbOdEa4rt8hUYS1b8Ywr7…/viewform…

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