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Second town hall narrows HPS focus

By Ken McLemore/Hope Public Schools, 07/1/20 5:47 PM

HOPE – Two key dates for students, parents, and personnel of the Hope Public Schools to remember were emphasized in the second virtual town hall on the opening of the 2020-2021 school year Tuesday night.

HPS Superintendent Dr. Bobby Hart used multiple occasions during the hour-long Zoom livestream on Facebook to emphasize the opening of classes on Aug. 13, and the roll-out of the HPS plan for the year on July 6.

Dr. Hart said the district committed to conducting the two sessions to assure parents, students, and staff of a safe, supportive system for everyone in the return to school.

“There are some things we know,” he said. “We know we will have a normal school day, as normal as we can. We know school starts Aug. 13; we know face masks will be recommended for all students ages 10 and older; we know bus transportation will be provided; we know we will provide lunch; and, we know there will be screenings at each campus.”

Hart said the return to classes will require communication between students, parents, teachers and administrators to succeed.

“All of us are in uncharted waters right now,” he said. “But, we need to remember there is nothing we can’t overcome if we will be patient, gracious and compassionate.”

Hart said parents should be certain to contact their student’s campus principal with their concerns prior to the start of classes Aug. 13.

“The more you communicate with us, the better. I promise you, we will listen and try to act on everything we can,” he said.

Hart appealed to the Hope High School Class of 2021 to take the lead on the HHS campus.

“We will make every effort possible to make the year a normal one,” he said. “If we are allowed to have sports, we will do so; if we are allowed to have graduation, we will do so; if we are allowed to have prom, we will do so. We understand how important these things are to you.”

Hart called upon the senior class to help “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 incidence for Hope and Hempstead County.

“The quicker we can lower the numbers, the quicker we can do these things,” he said.

Virtual learning through the “Hope from Home Virtual Academy” will be offered to all students interested in off-campus instruction. Registration for the HVA begins July 6, and forms will be available on the district website at www.hpsdistrict.org online, Hart said.

Virtual academy students will receive instruction that is aligned with on-campus classes via electronic devices provide by HPS.

Hart said virtual academy students will be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities; and, students requiring special education services who chose online instruction will provided services without disruption.

Hart said students who chose online instruction will be allowed to return to on-campus instruction, and students attending classes on campus will be allowed to opt for online instruction during the school year. He said the district will make recommendations about the frequency and timing of such changes.

All aspects of the HPS plan for the year to be released July 6 will be subject to Arkansas Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Arkansas Department of Education/Division of Elementary and Secondary Education guidance, Hart said.

Parents and students interested in learning more concerning that guidance may do so online at www.arkansasedu.gov for the ADE; www.cdc.gov for the CDC; and www.arkansas.healthy.gov for the state health department.

Questions and response information provided during the session were as follows:

WILL PARENTS BE REQUIRED TO BE PRESENT WITH THEIR STUDENT DURING ONLINE CLASSES – No.

–The flexibility of online instruction does not require it.

–HVA students will be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities as any home-based student.

WILL HVA STUDENTS BE PROVIDED LUNCH? – Yes.

–The HVA registration form asks for related information.

–Parents should provide information for an accurate count.

WILL OUTSIDE GROUPS BE ALLOWED TO VISIT CAMPUSES? – No.

–ADH and CDC guidance currently recommends against the practice of group visitation.

HOW WILL CLASS CHANGES ON CAMPUS BE CONDUCTED, AND HALLWAYS MANAGED?

–CDC guidance recommends “social distancing” where feasible and practical.

–Parents should emphasize to their students the importance of “social distancing,” use of face masks, and good hygiene.

–Classes are scheduled to change throughout the day as usual.

WHAT PROVISIONS ARE IN PLACE FOR SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS WHO ARE NOT ON CAMPUS?

–Lincoln Learning program is the fundamental platform for all virtual instruction.

–HPS staff will work with parents and students as required and needed.

–All instruction will be appropriate to the need of the student.

WILL THE DISTRICT PAY FOR INTERNET SERVICES AND DEVICES?

–Every HVA student will be provided a district-owned device which becomes their responsibility.

–Devices returned at the end of the year must be in good working order to be credited to the student; damaged devices are the responsibility of the student.

–The HPS does not provide internet services cost reimbursement, but will work with parents and providers to create opportunities.

–Information regarding student needs is reflected on the HVA registration form.

–Questions or concerns should be addressed to the student’s campus principal.

HOW WILL SCREENINGS BE CONDUCTED?

–Daily temperature screenings will be required of all students.

–Car riders in primary/elementary grades will be screened at their vehicle.

–Bus riders across all grades will be directed to a specific campus entrance for screening upon arrival at school.

–All “drop off” students entering campus during the day will be screened at the front door of the campus.

WILL FALL SPORTS SEASONS BE PLAYED?

–All sports guidance is through the Arkansas Activities Association, which has not issued current guidance regarding athletics seasons.

–AAA announcements will be publicized by the district as they become available.

HOW WILL CDC GUIDANCE AFFECT THE USE OF CAFETERIAS?

–Currently, the Arkansas Department of Health issues guidance for use of cafeterias which requires “social distancing.”

–Additional lunch periods may be scheduled on larger campuses; but, those decisions are to be made at the campus level.

HOW WILL GROUP ACTIVITIES SUCH AS BAND AND CHOIR BE AFFECTED?

–The district is currently awaiting definitive guidance from ADE/DESE.

–Currently planning for “normal” activities as feasible and practical.

WILL STUDENTS IN VIRTUAL INSTRUCTION BE ALLOWED TO RETURN TO CAMPUS?

–Yes.

–The district strongly encourages students who chose virtual instruction to remain in the HVA for a full grading period to ensure continuity for the student; however, the district will not require it.

HOW WILL OPEN HOUSE BE CONDUCTED?

–Open House schedules and formats will be determined by campus principals.

–Open House dates will be confirmed by Aug. 1 and announced by the district.

WILL STUDENTS WHO LEAVE VIRTUAL INSTRUCTION BE REQUIRED TO RE-ENROLL?

–No, they are already enrolled as a student in the district.

–Parents should contact campus principal for suitable arrangements.

HOW WILL STUDENT SCHEDULES BE ISSUED?

–Student on-campus class schedules are typically issued through the counselor’s office on each campus and delivered by mail in late July or early August.

–HVA student schedules will vary and should be discussed by parents with counselor or campus principal.

HOW WILL VIRTUAL INSTRUCTION STUDENTS BE TESTED?

–Course testing for all students will be conducted on the same instructional basis.

–Guidance on standardized testing by the state has yet to be completely outlined.

WHAT ARE THE BUS TRANSPORTATION PROTOCOLS?

–Arkansas Department of Health recommends students ages 10 and up wear face masks on school buses.

–“Social distancing” efforts will be made where feasible and practical.

–The HPS strongly recommends parents emphasize to their student the importance of wearing a face mask on the bus.

WHAT WILL SENIOR YEAR AT HOPE HIGH SCHOOL LOOK LIKE?

–Every effort will be made to have a “normal” year for seniors as feasible and practical.

–Every activity allowed by the ADE/DESE and AAA will be offered by the district.

HOW WILL THE DISTRICT IMPLEMENT THE USE OF MASKS/SOCIAL DISTANCING IN THE LOWER GRADES?

–ADH guidance recommends use of face masks for ages 10 and up.

–Younger students will need empathetic guidance from parents to understand the need for “social distancing” and why “hugs” will be put on hold this year.

HOW WILL PRE-K CLASSES BE CONDUCTED?

–All class levels will follow the same general guidance from ADH/CDC.

–Attention will be given to parents’ understanding of requirements from guidance