Madison-Plains goes remote, evaluates possibilities for second semester

(Posted Dec. 8, 2020)

By Josephine Birdsell, Staff Writer

Madison-Plains Local Schools moved to fully virtual instruction through the end of the semester.

The decision to move to virtual instruction follows rising COVID-19 cases within the county. Madison County Public Health advised all school districts within the county to remain in virtual instruction until Jan. 1, 2021.

“Having students here on campus is really important to us. It’s what we want. Our primary goal right now is to try to get all of our students back on campus as quickly as we can. Unfortunately, that is out of our hands at the moment,” said Chad Eisler, superintendent.

However, the district resumed practices and competitions for sports teams on Dec. 7. Practices and competitions will continue through the end of the semester.

“Academics are the primary reason we are here,” Eisler said, “but we want to offer students as much normalcy as we can.”

The district hopes it can offer a hybrid instruction model when classes resume for the second semester. However, new mandates from Madison County Public Health require all students and staff members to remain six feet apart when in school buildings. The district’s facilities are not large enough to support a hybrid educational model in which 50 percent of district students can attend in-person classes while socially distanced. Most classrooms within the district can only hold seven to eight students at six feet of distance.

So, district leaders are brainstorming possibilities for the return to school next year, Eisler said.

The district is considering a hybrid model with 25 percent of students on campus at a time–a model where students spend one day a week on campus. The district is also considering allowing its youngest students in kindergarten through sixth grade to complete classes in person, while older students complete classes in a fully virtual model.

“We know those younger kids are the ones who are struggling and suffering the most, not that the others are not struggling, not that the others are not suffering­–we know that they are. But those older (kids) can usually access remote learning a bit easier, Eisler said.

District families will be able to choose to enroll their students in fully virtual instruction for the second semester.

District leaders have no firm plans for the coming semester but are weighing options, Eisler said.

“We’re in the early stages of this (plan). We don’t know exactly how it’s going to work out. But I want our community to rest assured that we are working to get creative as to how we can get kids back on campus in January,” he said.

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