The Baldwin County Board of Education will vote today whether or not to push the start of public schools’ academic year back another week to Monday, Aug. 17.
The move is being discussed due to a low response rate in the survey sent out earlier this month asking parents whether they planned to send their children back to school in August or have them learn remotely.
“This presents a real challenge for us in planning for the start of the school year,” Superintendent Dr. Noris Price said in an email to The Union-Recorder.
As with any change to the academic calendar, pushing back the start of school must be approved by the school board. The elected body is holding a special called meeting today with that being the only item on the agenda. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. and will take place via teleconference. The public may listen in by calling 1-314-666-2921 and entering the PIN 300793753#. Price will recommend that the calendar be amended so school begins Aug. 17 and the board will vote on that recommendation.
The superintendent went on to say that these extra two weeks (the 2020-21 school year was originally scheduled to begin Aug. 3) will give staff more time to prepare for either instructional model whether it be remote or in-person.
Many school systems across the state have announced their plans for the upcoming academic term, but the Baldwin County School District (BCSD) is allowing families to declare their choice. The local public school system will then make a decision whether conditions are safe enough to return for face-to-face instruction for those students who have chosen that option, but system-wide remote learning is still on the table. Late last week 60 percent of students’ parents had not selected an instructional model for their children. Price gave an update Monday saying that the school district has since received 200 more responses. Even with those added responses, BCSD has yet to hear from roughly half its total enrollment.
Price said now that teachers are back (they reported Monday), phone calls are being made to those families who have yet to declare in an effort to increase the response rate and provide more data. Previously it was up to the parents to respond online through a parent portal, but the superintendent shared that, “many” had trouble accessing the portal.