Most opt for ’flexible plan’ in USD 373

Chad Frey
About 20% of students in Newton USD 373 have been enrolled in remote learning -- online only -- for the 2020-21 fall semester.

The Newton school district announced its reopening plan a week ago, and when that plan was announced, parents were faced with a choice.

Parents were asked to decide if their children would attend school remotely — online only — or enroll in a “flexible plan” for first semester.

As of Tuesday, about 20% of students had been enrolled in the remote only option.

“We still have a couple of hundred that have not signed up,” said Samantha Anderson, public information officer for the school district. “When you have a couple hundred, that can sway (the percentage).”

The school district contacted parents Tuesday, asking them to call their school building and finalize enrollment plans if they had not filled out electronic forms by the Thursday night deadline. Parents who have not notified the district of their choice should contact their school building.

In the flexible mode, the district will determine how many days students will be in school, based on COVID-19 case numbers and consultation with the Harvey County Health Department.

Any student learning remotely must perform a state-mandated six hours of course work — whether that be teaching/instruction from teachers or homework — each day. Families will be required to log the work.

The flexible path gives the district three options: students in school two days and remote learning for two or three days; online-only education; and students in school all day, every day.

Students will be subject to temperature checks when they enter the building, using kiosks accurate to within a degree and taking about two seconds. Students who do not pass the initial screening will be screened a second time by school staff. Students will also be required to wash hands hourly and wear masks as directed by the school.

On Monday, the board of education also voted to adopt an academic calendar for the 2020-21 school year. The first day for students will be Sept. 3. The calendar contains a three-day break for Thanksgiving, a two-week winter break, a one-week spring break and a last day of school on May 25.