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Letter from our Superintendent, Dr.  Lonnie Myers
Letter from our Superintendent, Dr. Lonnie Myers
Andrew Jernegan
Friday, July 24, 2020

July 24, 2020

Note: This information is subject to change. There is no way to be certain about COVID numbers between now and the near future. It is our plan to open school with a normal schedule if allowed to do so. It is very important for students, parents, and guardians to understand we will move into new learning as soon as possible. Grades will be taken and the importance of student engagement cannot be overemphasized. It also must be emphasized that we must have correct contact information, including correct email addresses. For this reason, we encourage our parents/guardians to stay in constant contact with teachers when school resumes in order that we hold our students accountable for new learning. We are so hopeful our kids will return to us at the school site. Attendance will be by attendance on-site or completion of assignments virtually through Google Classroom, Seesaw or other virtual tools used by our teachers. 

Mulberry/Pleasant View Bi-County School District (MPV) will follow the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) guidelines and the Arkansas Ready for Learning Playbook issued by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) in planning for reopening in the fall. These guidelines are subject to change. We hope the following information helps answer many of the questions you may have about reopening schools. 

Our goal is to provide as safe an experience as possible that includes a rich educational experience, with opportunities for social interaction and extra-curricular activities while adhering to guidelines provided by the Arkansas Department of Health. It is expected that our students will be engaged in new learning whether on-site or virtual. We will be offering technology to students in our Primary School with an expectation to move away from paper/pencil (if not in school physically). We will also offer technology to students at the Pleasant View Campus and Mulberry High School. We will be happy to offer training to parents in order to help our parents with technology skills as well. 

What is the first day for students?  

School will begin on August 24, 2020 as modified by a directive from the Governor. This date will only change if ADH sends updated guidance with this requirement but this is not anticipated. 

Who will be required to wear face coverings? 

Currently, the Governor of Arkansas (Asa Hutchinson) is requiring individuals to wear face coverings when appropriate (2 years old or under should not). We are requiring the same. Our emphasis will be on social distancing at all times possible and wearing face masks when distancing is impossible. Students with health issues and/or special health needs contrary to wearing a mask will not be asked to wear face coverings. Please share information with your principal if your child has any special circumstances which would negate wearing a mask. Students at the Marvin Primary, Pleasant View Campus and MHS will be required to wear face coverings in areas with a high concentration of students where social distancing cannot be  children; however the school will make the masks available to students for those students who need one with the expectation the masks are laundered at home. The district's plan is to only provide one per student.) We will provide every opportunity to unmask as needed during the day. 

Will bus transportation be provided? 

Yes, the district will provide bus transportation for all students. Based on current ADH guidance, students will be required to wear face masks due to the inability to social distance on the bus in some cases. We are attempting to adjust bus schedules to reduce the number of students on buses. We strongly encourage parent drop off at school if possible. 

How normal will the day be for a student? 

Our goal is for your student(s) to have as normal of a day as possible while we also provide as much safety as possible. Students will transition around the school as usual, but we may rearrange times and numbers to social distance as best we can. Sanitation will take place throughout the day. 

Will students at Marvin Primary still have extra classes like PE, art, music, guidance and library? 

Yes, students will continue to participate in activity classes, check out books, and receive guidance and gifted instruction. 

Will my primary student still have recess? 

Yes, students will continue to have outdoor play time. We will stagger recesses and possibly use two separate play areas at Marvin. Additionally, playground equipment will be sanitized. 

Will social distancing guidelines be observed? 

Social Distancing will be observed when feasible but at times the students will be closer than the recommended six feet apart. When social distancing guidelines cannot be maintained such as class exchange time, etc. students will be expected to wear face coverings. We will work diligently to increase the space between students. 

Will classrooms be arranged differently to protect students? 

Yes, classrooms will be arranged to provide more space between students. We will make every effort to provide distance but not limit students' ability to interact and communicate with others in their classroom. Additionally, supplies and materials will not be readily shared by students. 

Will students attend school every day or will we have some type of alternative schedule? 

We plan for students to attend school daily following a very similar schedule to the traditional school day. 

If an individual tests positive for COVID-19, what will happen?

In the event a student, faculty or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, we will follow the latest guidance from the ADH. This could result in a brief closure of a single school within the district to provide time for additional cleaning and sanitizing. 

Will students and adults be screened daily? 

We ask that parents/guardians screen their children each day. Please reinforce with our children how important proper hygiene is to keep a healthy school environment. We will ask parents to answer the following questions before sending students to school: 

  • 1. Have you had a fever of 100.4 F or greater in the last two days?

  • 2. Have you had a cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell?

  • 3. Have you been in contact with a person known to be infected with COVID-19 within the previous 14 days?

  • 4. If a student has been at home ill, they must be fever free without medicine for 24 hours before returning to school.

We have purchased touch-free thermometers for our nurse as well as other thermometers for some faculty and staff. We will have the ability to take temperatures of students and/or staff each day. We will practice hand washing and proper sanitation throughout the day. 

If I don't want my student to return to a traditional classroom, what are my options? 

We are extremely hopeful that most of our students will return to the traditional classroom because our teachers deliver the curriculum in the most personal way possible and are there to assist students if they struggle. The teacher will have the ability to deliver the content either in person or with an online tool. We will provide blended learning through Seesaw (K-2) or Google Classroom (grades 3-12). This will allow for extended absences of students or school closings. 

If that is not the choice of parents/guardians, a separate and completely total online instructional program for students will be available. The total on-line program will be a program called MPV Virtual Learning Program. All instruction from this program will be delivered by a teacher with the virtual program. Speak with your principal to get set up with this program. We will ask that parents commit to the MPV Virtual Program for one semester if so chosen. Students will be registered for virtual classes through programs such as Virtual Arkansas and Lincoln Learning. Parents need to commit to the virtual option by August 15th, if possible.

 We would like to recommend that parents strongly consider sending kids to on-site learning. The American Pediatrics Association (APA) has suggested that on-site school is important for the mental health of children due to the strong need for social interaction. The MPV School District will support our students and families regardless of the choice. 

If students choose to do full-time virtual, will they be able to participate in extracurricular activities. 

It is our expectation that students participating in activities will attend school on site. We believe that students participating in activities should be in school to attend practices and meetings that are held during school hours. Students have to retain academic eligibility by the normal Arkansas Activities Association (AAA) guidelines/rules. They will also abide by all COVID-19 guidelines. If there is an exception, it should be developed through the appropriate sponsor, coach and principal. 

Will we have open house? 

Yes. Students and adults must social distance and wear face coverings when appropriate (within 6 ft of others). Open House at all campuses is 5-7 pm on August 6". It is acceptable and encouraged to contact your student(s) teacher(s) by email or by calling the school office in lieu of physical attendance. Watering stations will be provided at each school. 

Will my student eat lunch in their classroom?

MPV will offer all students a free breakfast and a free lunch. Based on current guidance, the ADH is recommending cafeterias limit the capacity of students in the cafeteria. We anticipate this may either mean we will adjust lunch schedules, have some meals in classrooms (Marvin Primary) and/or use alternative areas. Proper sanitation will be completed after each meal. Procedures will not allow for self service or sharing food. Grab and go bags are a possibility as well as allowing older students (middle and high school) to eat outside when weather permits.  Parents are encouraged to send water bottles for students as water fountains will not be used in order to stop the spread of germs. 

What special precautions will be implemented in regard to cleaning and sanitizing?

Sanitation and cleanliness will be a high priority for our district as we return in the fall. Restrooms will be cleaned on a continuous basis throughout the day. We will provide for hand washing and hand sanitizer throughout the campuses. Students will be asked to sanitize their hands often. We will have a hand sanitizing station in each classroom. 

If a student comes to school sick, what will happen? 

If a student comes to school sick, the school nurse will screen the student and check their temperature. If temperature is over the ADH guidance, the student will be sent home and will need to be fever free for 48 hours without medication before returning to school. 

Will the students be allowed to use water fountains?

No. We are disabling our water fountains in an effort to stop the spread of germs. Students will be allowed to have individual water bottles not to be shared. We plan to have "watering stations” where students can fill up water bottles. We ask that parents send a water bottle with their children. 

How will you fill the gaps my student has from the previous year? 

Teachers and administrators have worked to revise the curriculum so that missed essential standards will be addressed when students return. Additionally, students will be assessed to determine individual strengths and deficits. These assessments will determine if students need additional support. At the secondary level, missed skills from a previous course will be embedded in the next course in the sequence. For example, a student enrolled in geometry would have geometry skills embedded in their Algebra II course. 

What happens if school closes again? 

If schools close again, a plan for at-home-digital learning has been developed. Teachers will utilize Google Classroom, Seesaw or Lincoln Learning to deliver lessons. Students will be engaged in blended learning that includes both on-site traditional and digital instruction. This approach will allow students who might be ill or quarantined for a limited amount of time to continue their education even if they are not physically present in the classroom. Students will learn how to use these systems by participating in lessons throughout the week while at school. 

Will our students have the same arrival and dismissal times? 

Probably...but depending on guidance from ADH, arrival and dismissal times may be varied, in order to increase social distancing to decrease the number of students in the cafeteria, gym, safe room, etc. before or after school starts. 

What about services for Students with Disabilities? Our Students with Disabilities will receive services as written on their IEP. Our Special Education teachers will deliver those services on-site or virtually through Google Classroom. For students with significantly cognitive disabilities, Teach Town through Google Classroom will be used. Related services of Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy will be provided on-site and/or virtually through Go Meet. Parent training will be provided as needed. Pre-testing of skills will be completed and if an IEP needs amending and IEP meeting will be scheduled with parents. 

What about students with weakened immune systems and pre-existing conditions? 

These students will be accommodated through both on-site and remote instruction. If parents have concerns about their student who may be at high-risk because of COVID-19, they may explore the virtual learning option which allows the student to continue their education from the safety of their own home. We do not believe it will be as personal to the students or family but it is an option. It places accountability on the student and parents/guardians for a child's success. Our main emphasis is for parents/guardians to visit with principals concerning the educational program for their students if in doubt. 

What is blended learning? 

Blended Learning allows students to continue learning grade level or content standards through the use of technology based and face-to-face instructional approaches. The District will provide each student with a device. We are exploring ways we can help each student have internet access. Once a student connects to WiFi they can submit assignments and download new assignments to complete from home. 

What about the school calendar? 

The MPV Revised School Calendar will be posted to our website very soon as well as included in this letter. You will notice that school starts August 24". The school calendar was changed (as directed by the Governor) to eliminate instructional days on August 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, and 21. That is seven instructional days which must be placed in the calendar at another time. Even though the students will not be here, we will use those days to prepare for the 24". We plan to have various voluntary workshops for teachers while our classified employees continue to prepare our facilities for students to return. 

I do want to take some time to explain about those seven instructional days. We plan to make six of those days virtual learning days in which our students and teachers will work from home. We had a small focus group of teachers and administrators to think through the most beneficial way to do this for kids and the least invasive way to do this for teachers and staff. Here is the plan. Our thinking is that we don't want to invade the breaks such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Spring Break in order to make up the days. We also don't want to extend school to June. For those reasons and more we think that changing the first quarter of the school calendar is the least invasive. 

The days (six of them) will be made up virtually in the first quarter on Saturdays. The last day (one) will be placed at the end of the calendar which will not be a Saturday. Remember, these days in the first quarter being made up are virtual days. The teachers will be designing the Saturday assignment on Google Classroom or Seesaw (Marvin K-2) to simply support the students on catching up from the last quarter of the 19-20 school year (March-May). The assignments will not be extensive, but instead engaging in order to assess how the students are coming along from the missed instructional time last spring. 

The requirements for a virtual day are that they allow for teacher-student interaction (virtually), the days are supported by teachers and parents, and that assignments will allow for student engagement? We believe the Saturday virtual days using Google Classroom and Seesaw will meet those criteria. Remember, our other options are to place those seven days during breaks or at the end of the year. We believe by allowing 3 quarters of the year to be as planned and approved and using the first quarter to really support the kids after a long break to be our best option on getting those seven instructional days in the calendar. 

What about Open House? 

We will have Open House August 6th from 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. It is required that face coverings will be worn and social distancing will be observed. It is acceptable to call or email your student's teacher(s) to introduce yourself or get information in lieu of attendance. 

Sincerely,


Lonnie Myers, Ed.D.

Superintendent

Lonnie Myers, Ed.D. | Superintendent | 479-997-1715 | Fax:  479-997-1897

Anthony Hood, Principal | Pleasant View Campus | 479-997-8469

Toni Hopkins, Principal | Marvin Primary |   479-997-1495

Brad Williams, Principal | Mulberry High School | 479-997-1701