(Editor’s Note: This is the first of a series of stories on the Vinton County Local School District’s reopening plan. Today: The basis of the plan and thoughts from the administration.)

The Vinton County Local Board of Education approved a return-to-school plan for the 2020-21 school year which provides for students to attend school five days a week. The reopening plan was formally approved during a regular-session meeting of the Board conducted Monday evening, July 27, at Vinton County High School.

Assistant Superintendent Mike Waggoner told The Telegram the concept of the plan, as Superintendent Rick Brooks was unable to attend. Waggoner noted the plan was developed by a committee composed of building leaders, teachers’ representatives, administrators, transportation department representatives, non-classified staffers and community members. The committee was also guided by the results of a survey taken by parents and guardians.

The basic components of the school-reopening plan are:

* Students in school five days a week beginning Wednesday, Aug. 19.

* In most cases, there will be assigned seats for students for meals and on buses.

* Sanitation stations will be set up on buses and schools.

* Desk dividers will be in place at all school buildings.

* Staff members will wear masks, but students will not be required to do so at most times with the exception of situations when a group of students are close together. It was noted the mask policy is subject to change.

* High school, and possibly middle school classes may be held in public areas such as the media center cafeteria and gym.

* The district will be providing Internet “hot spot” areas at the school parking lots. District leaders are also considering setting them up at the Zaleski Park and Wilkesville Community Building, but this is only a possibility at this point.

* A virtual Viking online instructional option will be offered by the district for students whose parents do not feel comfortable allowing them to return to school. The students participating in this option will have their progress and attendance monitored. The Telegram will provide more details in an upcoming story.

* The Board reserves the right to change to different basic operating plans if the circumstances warrant. Plan B -- commonly known as the "2-1-2" option -- centers on half the students attending school two days of the week with the the other half attending two different days; with the school buildings closed to students for one day of cleaning while online learning occurs. Plan C is an option for online learning where the buildings are closed as they were last spring by orders of the governor.

"It is going to be different, but we are striving for positive outcomes,” Waggoner related.

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(Stay Tuned: Part 2 of The Telegram’s series on the Vinton County School District’s reopening plan will cover the ideas and suggestions of how the school staff has made plans to make the best of a difficult situation.)