In recent weeks, a growing number of Williamson County schools have made the transition to remote learning. These decisions are never easy and multiple factors must be considered.
“The decision to transition to remote is not based solely on the number of positive cases or quarantines,” said WCS Executive Director of COVID Response Gary Anderson. “We must also examine current trends, attendance rates, staff absences and the school’s ability to get an adequate number of substitute teachers.”
Because information can change so quickly, district leaders meet daily to discuss whether any of district’s 49 schools should transition to remote learning. The three main metrics used include:
- Health Department recommendations due to positive cases and quarantines
- Overall attendance
Once a decision is made to transition a school to remote learning, the school community is notified by the District, and teachers begin the process of sending Zoom links and instructions for class the following day. School staff then use their protocols to determine whether academics or extracurricular activities can continue on-campus. In some cases, events have been canceled or postponed.
As part of the district’s reopening framework for the 2020-21 school year, the district used a red, green and yellow metric to inform the decision for the district to open as a whole remotely or in-person. As the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved and more guidance has been provided by State health and education authorities, the district has continued to adjust and improve on its processes. An element of the original metric was to trigger a conversation with the Health Department when a certain level was reached. Now, district staff communicate daily with Health Department staff. In addition, schools are evaluated individually. Since the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, more than 30 of the district’s 49 schools have transitioned to remote learning, involving either a class, grade level or the entire campus. A handful of schools have transitioned to remote learning more than once.
“We know students learn better when they are in the classroom,” said Superintendent Jason Golden. “But we must balance that with the health and safety of our teachers, staff and students. We have to stay nimble, and there are going to be times when we have to make the difficult decision for some schools to go remote.”