Students wishing to attend or continue attending the Murray Virtual School need to fill out a commitment form by December 4. School administration said this was a second contract to stay in virtual school for the remainder of the school year. Orientation is every Monday night and Friday afternoon.
Murray County’s online learning for traditional students during unplanned breaks, such as when Tropical Storm Zeta closed school systems across the Northwest Georgia, is working pretty smoothly, according to Adriane Ellis, instructional technology specialist.
On Oct. 30, known as “Virtual Friday,” she said 3,790 assignments were posted to Google classroom, 1,539 students participated in classes, and Google Meet showed 2,582 users both students and teachers.
According to survey results, 72.5-percent of the 834 response indicated they were able to access help as needed and 85.3-percent said they did not have any tech issues.
Brice Holcomb explained how to word the ESPLOST in order to give the board flexibility on how to sell the debt so you get the lowest rate and to protect the school system from getting all the money prior to the expiration of the ESPLOST.
“We set the maximum amount you can collect as $25.5 million. We by no means expect you to get that amount, but if you reach the max before the 60-months, you can no longer levy the tax.”
The board heard from one mother requesting her son be allowed to finish out the school year in Gladden before transferring to North Murray after they moved.
“I’ve brought all my children up in Murray County schools. (Now) We live out of district and my son really wants to finish at Gladded this year before transferring,” Rhonda Gable told the board.
“He’s a straight A student, a football player, and he was voted Mr. Gladden, which is a big deal,” said Gable. “We are hoping to move back into the district.”
The board thanked her for coming out and would look into it.
Murray County students will head back to school on September 8, but what that looks like can change at anytime, depending on the Corona virus acts. The Board of Education heard several options on how school could look come fall. Steve Loughridge, Superintendent of Murray County Schools, stressed they don’t have all the answers but are working to get plans in place for a variety of scenarios.
Students will be encouraged to wear masks, especially when social distancing isn’t feasible, such as on the bus. Teachers will wear masks outside their classroom and inside the classroom when working with small groups.
Water fountains will be closed and students are encouraged to bring their own water bottles.
There will be increased cleaning and sanitizing as well as hand sanitizing stations throughout the school.
Bus drivers will wear a mask and have hand sanitizer available. Bus assistants, who buckle children in and assist with handicap students will be provided face shields as they will be in close contact with students.
There will still be recess and physical education, and the cafeterias will be open with guidelines to adhere to social distancing.
Should the number of COVID-19 cases start to increase, the school may implement a hybrid learning system.
All students will be placed on an A/B schedule with each group attending the school two days a week while the alternating group will learn through distance learning. The day that no students are in school will be for teachers to collaborate or meet with students who are working on a topic specific project.
For example if Group A attends school on Mondays and Wednesdays and Group B attends Tuesdays and Thursdays, then Friday would be the collaboration day.
If the number of COVID cases increased to the point that schools need to be closed, then the system will revert to the distance learning model.
This will also help the bus situation, in that it would only have to provide transportation for half the students daily.
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“This won’t look like last spring,” said Loughridge.
Teachers have undergone a lot of training in case distance learning comes back into play. It will allow flexibility, as students will have to log in daily, but not at a set time.
Staff will report to campus, but students will not be allowed in school. Unlike the virtual option, distance learning will be run by Murray County teachers.
These three models work together, however Loughridge said there was enough interest in a totally virtual option for the system to work with third party vendors to offer that option.
The virtual program, while still part of the Murray County School system, would not be affected by snow days, COVID-19 outbreaks, or other issues that could slow or close traditional school.
The system will offer K-12 options. Right now, Appex provides the program for sixth through 12th grades and they are interview vendors for the lower grades.
A virtual meeting is scheduled for July 27 for parents interested in virtual learning.
As of right now, the system requires students who want to learn virtually to have their own devices as the Chromebooks only support Murray County’s platform and not the platform of the third-party vendor.
“That is something we will continue to look at and it could change,” Loughridge said.
Parents and students also need to be aware that those in the virtual setting are not eligible to compete in sports or extracurricular activities.
“Most of the parents said they were concerned about sending their kids back to school, so we felt we shouldn’t have that option,” said Loughridge. “We can revisit it later.”
Students will have to be approved for the virtual option and must commit to a semester. Loughridge said this is because the program is paid per student, so allowing students to drop and add would not be feasible.
For more information on Murray County schools, visit their website here.
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