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Back to school with COVID concerns

August 31, 2020

The upcoming 2020/2021 school year holds many uncertainties. There are endless questions about in-school versus online learning, safety procedures and about how Wando High School will adapt its teaching system to accommodate the new way of life.

Charleston County School District, and Wando High School specifically, have both been making decisions and working on formulating the safest plan possible for the next school year.

“If we do go back to the building — I think they said yesterday in a classroom at Wando High School, approximately 15 or 16 students can fit in a classroom at a time, being spaced six feet apart,” Wando social studies teacher Leanna Rossi-Potter said. “I do know that they are trying to, I guess, make a plan of where students will enter the building. They also have plans for busses, at like 50% capacity. And I believe students, for lunch, would go to the cafeteria — I’m not sure if they get hot lunch or they’ll just be given like a pre-packaged meal, but they will be socially distanced within the cafeteria.”

A survey was sent by Wando to parents and guardians regarding online versus in-person learning. The results of this questionnaire were to help determine and possibly pair students who wanted to participate in in-person learning with teachers who also wanted to participate in in-person learning. 

“Personally, I think that would be difficult to achieve in a high school setting because all those 300 kids have different courses, different teachers, so I don’t know if they could pair that up. I really think it’s gonna work better in an elementary situation and middle school situation,” Rossi-Potter said.

Online learning is a major way Wando plans to keep its students safe. With a much more structured plan in place than last semester, online learning will be just as rigorous as in-person learning and will help ensure students and teachers stay protected from the coronavirus. 

“We didn’t know what we were expecting,” Rossi-Potter said. “We thought it was only going to be maybe two weeks out of school, we weren’t trained, we weren’t prepared and teachers did the best that they could with what we were able to work with. But now that we know, it’s not going to be like it was at all. We are professionals and now that we had time and support to plan and prepare it will not be like it was in the spring.”

The new online system will be on a bell schedule and there will be more accountability held on both students and teachers.

“There’s going to be requirements for attendance,” Rossi-Potter said. “There’s going to be requirements for getting assignments, they’re definitely going to be graded this time. It’s going to be way more structure, more accountability on the students for not only being at the meetings when they can, or at least viewing the recording of the meetings, but completing the work. And same for the teachers. The accountability is there in providing the instruction.”

With the upcoming year starting on Sept. 8, there are many factors and decisions that still need to be considered and made, but the district and Wando High School have both been making strides to making sure students and faculty remain as safe as possible.

“I just hope that all my colleagues and every single staff member and all students are able to stay safe no matter what decision is made,” Rossi-Potter said. “I hope safety is going to be the number one concern for everybody.”

 

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