Traditional Return to School

  • Fall 2020: Returning to School Grades PK-12

    Guided by the principles for ReOpening Pinellas County Schools, the safety and wellness protocols previously outlined ensure that the district and every school have prepared and continue to maintain the highest standards for our students, families and employees when classes resume. With this in mind, instruction in schools and classrooms will also look different. The information below outlines what classes will look like as school reopens for high-quality, face-to-face, instruction.

    Curriculum

    PCS-adopted curriculum with lessons developed and taught by classroom teachers.

    Details and Considerations

    • Remain enrolled in your 2020-2021 assigned school and keep your seat within your District Application Program.
    • Traditional, in-person, face-to-face for grades PK-12 learning following the regular student schedule and student calendar (180 days of instruction) and bell times.
    • Follow and adhere to all 2020-2021 PCS school building health and safety protocols and Code of Student Conduct.
    • Note: If the need arises to quarantine and/or close a classroom, school or the entire district due to health concerns, instruction will continue but transition to the digital model noted within MyPCS Online until students and teachers return to traditional instruction. All decisions for quarantine and/or closure of classrooms, along with return dates will be made with the Department of Health.

     

    What will school look like for Students, Teachers and Instructional Support Staff when school reopens?

    What will be the same as previous school years in this option?

     

    Students

    • Students will physically come to their school for their learning. While attendance at school is critical for success, students should not attend if they are unwell or exhibiting any symptoms.
    • Students will physically see and interact with their teacher(s) and classmates and follow their class/course schedule each day.
    • Assignments, activities and classroom-based assessments will be developed and conducted by their teachers.
    • ESE, ESOL and Gifted services will occur as outlined in student-specific plans.
    • All students will be expected to complete and submit assignments as determined by the assigned teacher. All assignments will be graded and posted into FOCUS.
    • Code of Student Conduct and traditional school expectations remain in effect.
    • All students will follow the PCS Assessment Calendar and participate in all local and state assessments.

     

    Teachers and Instructional Support Staff

    • Teachers and instructional support staff report each day to lead and support instruction in their assigned classrooms.
    • Teachers develop and implement daily lesson plans for grade-level, standards-based instruction for students.
    • Teachers and instructional support staff differentiate and adjust instruction to meet the individual needs for student learning.
    • Teachers provide student make-up work, flexibility and support if they are out of school for any reason.

     

    What will be different from previous school years in this option?

     

    Students

    • Each morning, students and families must review wellness to ensure students are well and symptom-free prior to coming to school each day.
    • PCS health and wellbeing protocols will be implemented, and students and families need to adhere to all expectations to ensure the safety of all students, families and employees.
    • While students will physically see and interact with their teachers and classmates, collaborative activities may look different or be lessened to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the school community.
    • Classroom spaces will be rearranged to maximize social distancing and minimize any shared items (see sample classroom layouts).
    • Some classes may look different. Classes that involve high-contact such as band, chorus and physical education may have changes. See section below.
    • Lunch schedules will be modified to maximize social distancing.
    • Large group gatherings will be reduced.
    • Parent meetings and/or conferences will be scheduled to occur virtually, until it is deemed appropriate to have larger number of individuals on campus.
    • For students who receive ESE services, please see the ESE section for additional information.
    • Request to move forward with the process for the School Board to waive portion of Policy 5420.03- Reporting Student Progress and Class Ranking - High School regarding attendance requirement for high school exam exemption.

     

    Teachers and Instructional Support Staff

    • Each morning, all employees must affirm they are well and symptom-free prior to coming to work each day.
    • All employees will adhere to PCS health and wellbeing protocols.
    • Teachers will adjust lesson activities to maximize social distancing and minimize sharing of items.
    • Some staff meetings that traditionally occur as in-person events (e.g. professional development, PLCs, etc.) may occur virtually utilizing Microsoft Teams.
    • Meetings with parents will be scheduled virtually until it is deemed appropriate to have larger numbers of individuals on campus.
    • All teachers will receive training for the Canvas Learning Management System in July and August with continued support and development opportunities throughout the 2020-2021 school year. Teachers participating in July will receive a stipend.

     

    Specialized Areas and Electives:

    Pinellas County Schools is committed to providing a well-rounded educational experience that develops the aptitudes and interests of every student. In addition to the areas above, some electives and specialized areas of instruction have additional considerations when planning for the reopening of schools.

     

    Prekindergarten/Kindergarten

     

    What will be the same as previous years?

    • Continued focus for young children to learn through play and their interactions with the teacher and other students.
    • Hands-on materials to develop conceptual understanding, to show and revise their thinking, and to develop social/emotional skills such as self-regulation.
    • Classroom arrangements will remain developmentally appropriate, with modifications to support health and wellness.
    • Continue to use outdoor spaces as part of the learning environment.

     

    What will be different from previous years?

    • All adults will be wearing masks/face coverings and/or shields.
    • Classes will remain as cohorts throughout the day to limit cross-exposure amongst other students.
    • Students will be issued masks/face coverings and should be used to the greatest extent possible.
    • Limiting the sharing of materials.
    • Regular disinfecting and rotating the use of materials.

     


     

    Physical Education

     

    What will be the same as previous years?

    Students will have the opportunity to engage in physical education classes in alignment with Florida requirements

    • Elementary – 150 minutes physical education
    • Middle – Semester of physical education per year
    • High – HOPE (Graduation requirement)

     

    What will be different from previous years?

    • Classes will be conducted outside, to the greatest extent possible, with high-contact activities reduced/limited.
    • In elementary grades and specialized populations, cohorts of students will remain together to limit cross-exposure amongst students.
    • Focus will be on individual skills and fitness as opposed to game play.
    • Masks/face coverings will not need to be worn when outside and when social distancing can occur.  Students and staff should have their masks/face coverings with them to ensure they are available, if needed.
    • Locker rooms will not be utilized, and students will not need to change into ‘PE clothing’ to participate in class.
    • Weight rooms will remain closed in alignment with high school athletic (FHSAA) determinations. Curriculum modifications for students enrolled in weight training classes will be made to focus on bodyweight exercises.   

     


     

    Performing Arts:
    Band/Orchestra/Chorus/Drama

     

    What will be the same as previous years?

    • High-quality, engaging music, theatre (and dance where applicable) programs including music ensembles (band, chorus, orchestra).
    • Authentic rich face-to-face teaching and dialogue.
    • Live class rehearsals and experiences.

     

    What will be different from previous years?

    • Greater focus on instrument care, hygiene, choral singing safety as well as personal health.
    • Focus on smaller ensemble works, likely more project-based work due to smaller ensembles and opportunity for independent learning.
    • Performances and assessments may be streamed live or recorded rather than performed live.
    • Rooms arranged to maximize social distancing and, in some cases, relocation of room for more space including potential outdoor classes and/or rehearsals for some groups.
    • Creative performance opportunities including live streaming, recorded or multiple performances to address size of audiences.

     


     

    Visual Art 

     

    What will be the same as previous years?

    • High-quality, engaging, live instruction from certified art educator.
    • Authentic rich face-to-face teaching and dialog.
    • Access in all schools to quality art supplies and materials.

     

    What will be different from previous years?

    • Limiting the sharing of materials.
    • Regular disinfecting and rotating the use of materials.
    • Enhanced use of art to support social-emotional wellbeing and expression.

     


     

     World Languages

     

    What will be the same as previous years?

    • Students will still listen to, read, write and speak the language they are studying as well as learn about the cultures of the regions where the language is spoken.
    • Students will interact with each other in class in authentic ways using a variety of print and digital resources. 

    What will be different from previous years?

    • Students will have expanded opportunities to use the language they are acquiring through technological resources that are part of our new curriculum. 
    • Outside of class, students will engage with technology to listen to and read the language they are studying. 
    • Teachers will wear face shields so that students will be able to see their faces as they teach new vocabulary and structures as well as indicate agreement as students test new learning. 
    • Students engaged in American Sign Language (ASL) courses will need face shields instead of masks/face coverings to be able to communicate.
    • Additional precautions will be needed to use the language labs, including heightened cleaning of the headsets between student users. 

     


     

    Student Progress Monitoring

    Students will engage in ongoing progress monitoring to support academic growth. As in all previous years, if based on classroom-based or formative (e.g. MAP, reading assessments, cycle assessments and exams) progress monitoring a student needs additional supports, school teams will work alongside students and their families to provide the appropriate strategies and supports to meet their individual needs.

     


     

    Exceptional Student Education (ESE) 

    In addition to the considerations noted for all students, the following considerations and processes will be in place for students who receive ESE services.  Note: all services will be provided in alignment with their IEP/EP.

    Self-Contained Classroom Settings

    Cohort: To the extent possible, and in alignment with IEPs, students in self-contained classrooms will remain as a cohort (group of students/teachers) throughout the day.  This will minimize the exposure to larger numbers of individuals throughout the school day.

    Handwashing protocols will be built into the daily schedule: Visuals will be provided to each school with self-contained classrooms for placement within each classroom.  Any time a student is using shared materials, they would be washing hands at the transition time.

    Social Distancing: Students will be socially distanced to the greatest extent possible.  When it is not possible to socially distance, students should engage in more frequent hand washing, and whenever possible, wear masks/face coverings.

    Personal Protective Equipment- PPE (masks, face coverings and shields): Understanding that there may be students, due to the nature of their disabilities, who will not be able to wear/utilize a mask/face covering, staff in those cases will need to wear a mask/face covering and shield. In addition, social distancing to the maximum extent possible should be considered when developing lessons and activities. Therapists, teachers and other staff working with students who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing, will need to wear face shields, but not masks/face coverings to ensure proper communication.  Shields will also be worn by all Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) when providing therapy and students should wear shields for speech therapy.  For staff that may not be able to socially distance, it is expected that they wear appropriate PPE as determined by the ESE department. Staff will receive training regarding processes and procedures for delivery of services.

    Student Instructional Components Regarding COVID-19: Social stories will be provided to staff and will be included in instruction upon return to school.  These social stories are focused on developing understanding of new protocols and the importance of maintaining healthy processes and decisions.  In addition, visuals for lining up, hand washing, schedule and classroom routines will be provided to schools and should be posted where students are able to see them.  The routines should be practiced during the school day. (Note: Social stories are a specific learning tool for students with Autism. They provide information in a way that is understandable and repeatable to teach a skill or further understanding.)

    Equipment and Material Cleaning – Where possible, students should have individual sensory items, classroom tools (e.g. Pencils, crayons, etc.) that are in separate containers. 

    Sensory Equipment

    In instances when equipment or sensory items must be shared, cleaning must occur on a frequent basis, between students and will need to be planned for by teachers and/or therapists. Such examples include, but are not limited to:

    Sensory and Therapy Rooms: Ball pits, tunnels, and cloth swings need to be removed as they cannot be adequately cleaned between students.  Equipment in therapy rooms that are cloth, or meet the above, need to be removed.  Should more than one student be in a sensory or therapy room at one time, they must be able to be socially distanced and refrain from sharing of equipment to the maximum extent possible.  Equipment (to include standers and other positioning devices) must be cleaned between students following proper cleaning protocols.

    Group Therapy Sessions: In the case where students are in small group therapy sessions, the size of the group should be considered in relation to the size of the therapy room to ensure social distancing where PPEs would interfere with the session or would not be able to be worn due to sensory or other issues. Further guidance and training will be provided to staff regarding delivery of services.

    General Education Settings

    In most cases, students will follow the expectations set forth for all classrooms.  In circumstances where students are included, but there are additional considerations noted above, such as sensory concerns that prohibit the wearing of masks/face coverings, a shield will be recommended.  If a shield and mask/face covering are not possible, then the student will need to engage in frequent hand washing and social distancing from other students will be maximized.  Visuals and social stories will be available to any classroom that needs them.

    Communication

    Communication will need to be provided with families and school staff on a frequent basis. 

    Families should review the PCS ReOpening Plan and begin to familiarize their students with the protocols and videos (e.g. hand washing, how to properly wear a mask/face covering, etc.) to support their understanding of the 2020-2021 school year.

    Families should communicate with school-based staff any non-negotiable for cleaning and sanitizing will need to be provided to staff. 

    ESE Documentation and Compliance

    Diagnostic Assessments- Access Standards

    Upon return to school, students will take diagnostic assessments that will be specific to grade level and for students on Access Standards, consistent with grade level and level of access in order to assess specific skills.  These diagnostic assessments should be considered in relation to the students IEP goals.  In circumstances where the results might indicate that the IEP team needs to meet to review and possibly amend the IEP, the meetings should be scheduled early in the school year. ESE service providers will need to collect data on IEP goals, following the standard guidelines set forth in the ESE Handbook.  Staff should track a student’s recoupment of skills and ensure that where necessary, Extended School Year (ESY) is considered. 

    For students who are instructed virtually– the expectation will be that students receive real-time specially designed instruction and related services, as if they were served in a traditional, face-to-face setting through virtual platforms (e.g. Microsoft Teams or Zoom).

    IEP/EP, Evaluation, Eligibility and Reevaluation Meetings

    For cases in which a yearly meeting was not held due to COVID-19, those meetings will be scheduled promptly upon return to school.  Any IEP/EP that has gone beyond the meeting due date, will be prioritized.  Further information will be provided to schools regarding IEP/EPs that will expire prior to October FTE Date Certain to ensure all meetings are scheduled and held. 

    Case managers will also review any students for whom there is an open reevaluation.  The case manager will meet with the student services team upon return to school in August to review all open cases and to prioritize completion.

    To the greatest extent possible, all eligibility and reevaluation meetings will be held virtually to limit exposure for students, families and employees.  If there is a specific request for an in-person meeting, all individuals participating in the meeting must adhere to the PCS health and wellness protocols outlined within the ReOpening Plan, including but not limited to: self-screening for wellness to be in a district building, social distancing and personal protective equipment.

    If parents/guardians have concerns about the status of IEP/EP or reevaluation, they should contact their case manager or school during the opening weeks of school.

     


     

    English Learners (ELs)


    Our English Learners (ELs), like all our students across the district, have had a disruption of their daily lives, have worries about their own families, and have experienced high-stress situations. The district recognizes that students will need additional supports to rebalance and refocus on the task of learning and being productive in the school community. The goal remains for ELs to achieve the same rigorous grade-level academic standards that are expected of all students, within a reasonable period of time.

    Schools will continue to be guided by the following principles in delivering EL services:

    •  Assets-Oriented and Needs-Responsive Schools
    • Meaningful Access to Quality Instruction
    • Meaningful Communication with EL Families

    These principles will continue to guide the district in implementing instructional programs for ELs during the transition to reopening schools. This means that the schools will ensure that they embrace ELs as the assets they are while also providing them with the support they need to succeed. The same is true for EL students with disabilities. For dually identified students, a knowledgeable educator will be involved in planning distance learning needs for students with an individualized education program (IEP/EP).

    District schools will continue to provide designated and integrated English Language Development (ELD) and have the flexibility to determine how services will be provided to ELs. Under state and federal law, there is no required amount of time that must be allocated to EL services.

    In addition to the considerations noted for all students, the following considerations and processes will be in place for students who receive EL services across all settings. EL students will continue to receive services including:

     

    • Designated time for ELD instruction within the schedule with opportunities for extended instructional time (for recently arrived ELs and ELs identified for interventions)
    • Embedded grade-level content supports within lessons to meet the needs of ELs at their level of English language proficiency (for recently arrived ELs and ELs identified for interventions)
    • Formative ELD assessments in reading, writing, listening and speaking to monitor progress in English language proficiency in ELD classes
    • Family outreach and education to support families’ understanding of the PCS ReOpening Plan in the native language, as feasible
    • Counseling, social work, and psychology services for social emotional supports and advising in the native language, as feasible

     

    Communication with Families

    In addition to collaborating with classroom teachers and school, district and county educators, engaging the parents of ELs remains important during school reopening. Schools have an obligation to ensure meaningful communication with parents of ELs in a language they can understand and to adequately notify parents of the same information about any program, service or activity that is shared with parents of students who are not classified as ELs. Schools should translate all mailings and emails to parents to provide access to the information in a language they understand. For parents who need support in reading information, schools may use recorded telephone calls that go to families or LionBridge phone interpretation services. Working with parents and offering them the opportunity to be involved in their children’s education is key to the students’ success at all times, especially during distance learning and the transition to reopening.

      

    ESOL Documentation and Compliance

    Upon return to school, all students identified through the Home Language Survey form as potential ELs will be administered an English Language Proficiency assessment. This assessment can be administered remotely for students participating in the MyPCS Online and Pinellas Virtual School options.

    All students previously identified as ELs will continue to receive services in accordance with federal and state requirements and based on the 2020 ACCESS for ELs English language proficiency levels.

    Additionally, schools will closely monitor ELs who were reclassified as fluent English proficient to evaluate whether students need additional services. An EL’s English proficiency level may have decreased because the student has experienced limited instruction for an extended time during school closures. Therefore, close monitoring is key to ensure that ELs have the opportunity to recover any academic losses incurred during school closures. Collaboration is key to supporting ELs during distance learning and throughout the transition to reopening schools.

    For students who are instructed virtually– the expectation will be that students receive real-time EL services, as if they were served in a traditional, face-to-face setting, based on their level of English language proficiency.

    EL Committee Meetings

    For cases in which a yearly EL Committee meeting was not held in spring 2020 due to COVID-19, those meetings will be scheduled promptly upon return to school. Any meeting that has gone beyond the meeting due date, will be prioritized.

    If a school observes regression in the reading, writing, listening or speaking skills of an EL student, school staff will reach out to the family to discuss convening an EL Committee meeting.

    To the greatest extent possible, all EL Committee meetings will be held virtually to limit exposure for students, families and employees. If there is a specific request for an in-person meeting, all individuals participating in the meeting must adhere to the PCS health and wellness protocols outlined within the ReOpening Plan, including but not limited to: self-screening for wellness to be in a district building, social distancing and personal protective equipment.

    If parents/guardians have concerns about the status of EL services, they should contact their ESOL teacher or school during the opening weeks of school.

     


     

     

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