Pending an agreement with the Fort Zumwalt Education Association, which represents teachers in the district, the Fort Zumwalt School District Board of Education voted unanimously to delay the start of the 2020-2021 school year to August 31, 2020.
The decision was made at a special meeting August 10 and could be finalized at the regular meeting scheduled for August 17. Plans remain in place to return to in-person learning five days a week for nearly 80 percent of the district’s 18,000 students, with modifications to every aspect of the school day in place. (See the plan at go.fzsd.us/Return2020)
The approximately 20 percent of students registered for FZ Virtual, the full-time virtual option in which families could enroll until July 31, was higher than had been indicated in early summer surveys. Accommodating the schedules, especially for high school students, has resulted in a full reconstruction of schedules for all high school students. The delay will provide counselors and building administrators time to work with families in a best effort to accommodate student course requests. It will also provide additional preparation time for teachers and staff.
Following is the letter that was sent out to parents from Dr. Bernard DuBray, Superintendent of Fort Zumwalt School District:
This letter is written as an update on plans for the 2020-2021 school year. First, and foremost, you should know that the district plan originally released July 20 remains in effect. That is, we intend to start with five days a week of face-to-face instruction, Pre-K through grade 12. We will be practicing safe social distancing as much as possible and have modified plans so that all staff and students K-12 will be expected to wear masks. We also offered our parents an option of virtual instruction. The deadline for that decision was July 31.
At that time, 80 percent of parents indicated face-to-face instruction was their preference Approximately 20 percent, or 3,500 students registered for FZ Virtual. This is about 1,200 more students than was indicated in earlier surveys, so it is taking more time than expected to rearrange schedules for the start of the year. Therefore, at a special Board of Education meeting Aug. 10, I recommended that the start of the school year be delayed five days to Aug. 31. This will allow the additional time necessary to plan and reschedule our student body to best provide for the new year. The Board approved this recommendation pending an agreement with the Fort Zumwalt Education Association.
We are all excited to see students in our hallways again and hope all parents realize that, until COVID-19 is under control, the school day will look different than what you remember. There are many modifications and safety precautions in place for the benefit of students and staff. Check your school’s website to learn more about specific modifications. Please be aware, I expect there will be COVID-19 cases in our schools despite our serious efforts to keep illness out. We have procedures in place that will deal with both staff and student cases. Even though there might be some short periods of shutdown, I firmly believe that the collaboration of staff, parents and students in upholding the measures we have in place can provide an environment that supports in-person instruction during this pandemic. As always, our strength is our community’s support. I look forward to the day all 18,000 students will be back in our hallways.
Dr. Bernard J. Dubray