Cape: Almost half of parents would send children to school

Families able to choose option that suits best
July 28, 2020

A district survey showed almost half of parents would send their children if schools opened tomorrow, Cape Superintendent Bob Fulton said at the July 23 school board meeting.

“And that’s even before seeing our plan, we had roughly 48 percent,” Fulton said.

About 33 percent of parents were undecided, Fulton said, and about 19 percent of parents said they would not send their children to school in the fall. Percentages may change after the school reopening plan is revealed, preferably by Friday, July 31, or Friday, Aug. 7, at the latest, he added. The first day of school is Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Of the parents who would send their children to school, 57 percent said their children would use the bus. School officials typically prefer students ride the bus to avoid traffic during pickup and drop-off times; however, Fulton said parents who are able may be encouraged to provide transportation for their children.

Nearly 2,300 parents responded to the survey, which ran July 15-19, representing more than 3,600 of Cape’s roughly 6,000 students, Fulton said; staff members will be surveyed on their preferences the week of July 27.

On July 15, Fulton said, he received state guidelines for reopening schools under three scenarios – in case of minimal community spread, minimal-to-moderate community spread, and significant community spread. 

In scenario 1, schools are open for in-person instruction. In scenario 2, schools may use a hybrid model of remote and in-person instruction, and in scenario 3, school buildings are closed, with remote learning only.

Fulton said superintendents spoke with Gov. John Carney by phone July 23, and that Carney said schools are currently in scenario 2 and are closer to scenario 1 than scenario 3.

“We want to be in scenario 1,” Fulton said.

Regardless of which scenario is in place, Fulton said, parents will be able to choose an option, including remote learning, that best suits their families. Remote learning will have increased expectations for students and teachers than in the spring, he added.

For space and health reasons, he said, students who begin the new year remotely must remain remote for an amount of time to be determined. Students who begin the year in person will be able to switch to remote, he said. 

With social distancing requirements, Fulton said, fewer students in school buildings may help create more space. Under state guidelines, all desks must face the same direction, and gatherings of 50 or more should be avoided. Masks are required for staff and students in grades 4-12 and should be worn in prekindergarten through third grade.

Busing is a major challenge, Fulton said; under state guidelines, only 22 students can ride on the district’s 72-seat buses, so officials must formulate creative transportation plans if students return to school. The district has purchased sprayers for bus drivers to disinfect a bus in 4-5 minutes between runs, he said.

Fulton said everyone may not like the plan, but he assured parents and staff that the district will create a safe environment with protocols and precautions in place.

“I won’t recommend anything to the board that will put the health of anybody in jeopardy,” he said.

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