As of right now, there are too many unknowns to determine how school will look like next school year for Halifax County Public School students, but Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg and Halifax County School Board members are hoping to still start on time.
That was part of a discussion on closing the 2019-2020 school year and approach to 2020-2021 school year when board members held an electronic information meeting with Lineburg and other school staff.
“I’m hoping the Comets will be out on the field on Friday nights, and we will be back to a routine,” said Lineburg.
While they’re holding out hope, a traditional school setting is not a guarantee.
Therefore, Lineburg said in addition to planning a traditional model for school, that will include going back and making up work that was not touched on or needs to be reviewed from the current year, they also will plan a non-traditional model.
“We’re not as bad as some folks. We didn’t miss as much school as some school systems,” said Lineburg.
He said they will have to combine teaching new material and re-teaching.
While they don’t have concrete answers on how a non-traditional school year would look like, the superintendent said he anticipates the school system to use a variety of platforms.
He mentioned some considerations include rotating classrooms and online learning.
The superintendent also said while accreditations requirements aren’t clear, he said they are looking into applying for state waivers to waive testing requirements not only for the previous school year but next school year.
Creating possible hot spots for Internet, and a previously discussed partnership with Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation, Microsoft and local schools to connect Halifax County homes with a variety of technologies, including wireless signals delivered over TV “white spaces,” also was discussed.
But Jeanie Hawks, division of instructional technology, said that partnership did not pan out as expected, but they continue to look elsewhere.
“It’s hard to get hot spots,” said Hawks.
In addition to hoping to start school next year in August, the superintendent also said they hope to have summer school in July.
He said Halifax County High School was looking into having online learning, but said the elementary level was looking into planning a traditional setting as well as other platforms.
The superintendent said they may not end up with summer school, but that the state was encouraging it.
The school board also heard an update about food services from Lori Hale.
As of Monday, the school system has given out over 1,100 meals since giving out meals at Sydnor Jennings Elementary, Scottsburg Elementary, Halifax County Middle School and Cluster Springs Elementary School on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., said Hale.
Vice chairman Sandra Garner-Coleman asked if meals were only given to children or the entire family.
Hale said parents had the option of purchasing meals.
In other discussions Monday, ED-8 trustee Walter Potts suggested the school system send out weekly alerts encouraging families to wear masks and suggested sending out how individuals could make their own.
“I’m sick and tired of seeing people who aren’t wearing masks,” said Potts.
But, vice chairman Sandra Garner-Coleman said she thinks people just don’t have any.
“Kids can make them,” Potts replied. “You can make these yourself. We need to do something.”
“We’ll figure it all out with the health department’s guidance,” Lineburg responded.
The vice chairman also asked about the possibility of holding a graduation for seniors.
“Whenever we can, we will hold a full graduation,” the superintendent replied.
He also said they would like to hold a teacher of the year reception.
“The only thing we can do is remain hopeful,” Garner-Coleman replied.
Chairman Todd Moser said in his opinion that things would go back to normal by June 10, which is the date Governor Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home order should end if it is not rescinded or extended.
“I pray all goes back to normal. We will get through this. Hopefully school will start in August, and we will move forward,” Moser concluded.