SUBSCRIBE NOW

Smyrna School District reopening plan begins virtually Sept. 8

Ben Mace
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times
The Smyrna School District Central Office on Monrovia Avenue in Smyrna.

The Smyrna School District will start “virtual” lessons Sept. 8, with the first students scheduled to return in person in October.

“We have been working in our district since this past April to prepare for our students’ return in the fall,” said Smyrna Superintendent Patrik Williams. “Our planning teams and mission became even more defined with the release of the state report, titled ‘Returning to School Planning a Safe, Efficient and Equitable Return to School for Students and Staff.’” 

Williams said three teams, Health & Wellness, Academics & Equity and Operations & Systems, are collaborating and include “a cross-section of diverse stakeholders across the district and the community with a laser focus on establishing safe protocols for the re-opening of schools to staff and students.” 

With Gov. John Carney’s Aug. 4 order that all public and charter schools may re-open in a hybrid model of virtual and in-person instruction, Williams said the Smyrna School District will welcome all students to the 2020-21 school year Sept. 8 with online, virtual instruction, and then gradually moving to in-person “hybrid” instruction. 

“Barring any change in Governor Carney‘s order, we anticipate a rolling return to the live classrooms by phasing in growing numbers of students according to grade level,” Williams said. “The Smyrna School District is committed to delivering quality instruction through whatever means we are trusted to provide, and we all--board members, administrators, teachers, and every staff member – look forward to our students’ safe and healthy return to our schools this fall.”

In an Aug. 5 letter to parents, guardians and students, Williams said, “This summer has been unlike any other I can remember in recent history. Daily, we are reminded of challenges to our return to the classrooms in the fall, yet our district and school teams have been actively preparing for months to provide a safe, healthy and positive instructional plan for all of our families.”

He said unless changed by the governor's order, the “yellow” or “hybrid” model of instruction for the Smyrna School District will begin Tuesday, Sept. 8 with virtual online instruction for all students in pre-k through grade 12.

Teachers and paraprofessionals will report to their schools Sept. 8.

Schedule

The district is planning a virtual instructional period followed by a hybrid instructional period in stages for certain grades as follows:

From Sept. 8 to Oct. 2, virtual instruction for all grades, pre-k to 12.

From Oct. 5-23, hybrid in-person instruction for kindergarten to 3rd grade; virtual for pre-k and grades 4-12.

From Oct. 26 to Nov. 13, hybrid in-person instruction for pre-k to 6th grade; virtual for grades 7-12.

From Nov. 16 to Dec. 4, hybrid in person instruction for pre-k to 8th grade; virtual for grades 9-12.

From Dec. 7 until Gov. Carney issues a new order, hybrid in-person instruction for all students, pre-k to 12th grade.

Cleaning

Beginning Wednesday, Sept. 16 and every Wednesday during each week of either virtual or hybrid instruction each school will be closed to complete deep cleaning, sanitization and supply replacement until Gov. Carney orders a traditional “green” in-person educational model.

However, all students, teachers, educators, and paraprofessionals will participate each Wednesday in virtual instruction, interventions and academic support from their homes.

No in-person open house events

To ensure that all efforts are focused on health, safety and wellness, there will be no live open house events this year. All teachers are encouraged to post on their school’s web pages a brief pre-recorded “welcome” to their families in lieu of a live presentation.

Transportation

Supervisor of Transportation Sharon Almondo is working to create bus routes that accommodate families’ needs as a result of the hybrid model later this fall.

“We will be transparent in how we assign students to our routes to support social distancing, mask wearing and all necessary safety precautions,” Williams said. “Siblings across the district who reside in the same household will be scheduled to attend schools on the same days during the 'rolling' hybrid instructional period to make it easier on our families.”

Meals

Meals—both breakfast and lunch—will be provided daily in the school to students who report once hybrid instruction begins and curbside exclusively during virtual instruction. Details will be available on the Smyrna School District Child Nutrition Program website.

No before-school or after-school care

“Until Governor Carney’s order changes to a full, in-person model of instruction, all of our efforts will be focused on supporting health and safety during the student day. For this reason, no before- or after-school care will be provided until Governor Carney reopens our schools in a ‘green’ traditional model of instruction,” said Williams.

Safety precautions, masks required

The “rolling” hybrid model of instruction will require all students and staff to adhere to all Division of Public Health mandates, including but not limited to social distancing, regular sanitization and mandatory mask wearing while in school.

“However, we recognize that some families may wish to choose a purely virtual model of instruction to accommodate their children’s specific needs until Governor Carney orders our schools to begin ‘green’ traditional instruction,” Williams said.

Survey for parents to choose virtual instruction

Williams said for any parent or legal guardian who chooses a strictly virtual model of instruction for their children until the governor orders a "green" traditional return to schools, a Google document survey will be available at this link so they may answer the questions and make their selection:

https://forms.gle/kQmPoCgEqBoE2kym7

Regardless of whether a family chooses virtual or hybrid instruction, that decision will be in place for all students in that household for the entirety of Governor Carney’s current order. Parents/legal guardians will be required in the Google survey to give an assurance that they are the parent/legal guardian, that they are making a choice for the duration of the governor's order, and that if they send their children to school during the “rolling” hybrid period, their children will wear a mask properly covering the nose and mouth while in attendance.

“We all understand that this is a stressful time for you, for your children, for all of us. Our primary mission is to provide meaningful instruction in a safe and healthy environment. Please take care of yourselves these next few weeks, and we look forward to seeing you all soon,” Williams said.

The complete letter is available on the district’s website at https://www.smyrna.k12.de.us/.