Pair of academic `pathways’ available for Durant students

Kevin Farr,
The Bryan County News
All Durant ISD campuses, including Northwest Heights Elementary School, will have a staff member serving as a liaison with the Oklahoma Department of Health when classes resume on Aug. 20.

Durant Public Schools will take a cautious-but-forward approach to the start of a new school year with carefully constructed protocols in place.

Two academic “pathways” will be provided for students heading into the 2020-21 school year, with traditional and virtual options available from which parents may choose.

The first day of classes for Durant ISD is slated for Aug. 20.

“This year we will need the help of every person in our Durant team and our Lion family to work together to provide a safe learning environment for all students,” Superintendent Duane Meredith said in a prepared statement.

“Although this is a time we never could have imagined, I know there is no better place to be right now than Durant. During the development of these plans, we have followed guidelines and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oklahoma Department of Health, Oklahoma Department of Education and Bryan County Emergency Management. This plan has been carefully crafted, but please be mindful our decisions may continue to be updated to reflect any additional recommendations.

“Pathways have been created in order to provide the best possible academic environment for students regardless if they are physically on or off campus,” Meredith explained. “Specific safety protocols will be carefully planned, implemented, monitored and updated on a regular basis. These include, but are not limited to, health screenings, cleaning protocols, paths of travel, best practices for classrooms, outdoor recess procedures and meal service directory. We will be proactive in responding to any questions or concerns that arise.”

Durant ISD is requesting that parents take their child’s temperature each morning before school and have students remain home if they have a fever of 100 degrees or greater. Faculty and staff will be required to screen themselves daily as well.

Each campus will devise plans to maintain social distancing as much as possible in common areas such as hallways, classrooms, cafeterias, gyms and on buses.

Electrostatic sprayers have also been purchased, which will provide a protection coverage from germs of 24 hours after each application. Additional cleaning protocols and precautions will also be utilized in partnership.

Each of the school campuses will have a dedicated person who will serve as the single point of contact for all things COVID-19 related in addition to serving as the liaison with the Oklahoma Department of Health should a positive case arise.

According to the school district, several other safeguards will be implemented depending on a student’s grade level. Classroom space will be maximized, and one-directional seating will be used when possible.

If a parent requests a virtual-education pathway for their child, they will need to go through an interview process to be accepted, during which school personnel will ensure the virtual-student applicant has the tools and resources available to be successful in that pathway.

That interview process will include questions about the availability of the virtual student to meet with a teacher virtually weekly, the presence of a learning coach for the student at home, any technology needs, interest in extracurricular participation for older students, and other special needs.

There is an Aug. 3 deadline to apply for the virtual pathway. For further information, email or call Beth Bean at (580) 916-7137.

For in-person learners attending classes at campuses, currently face masks are not required for students or staff, but remain optional. The district strongly recommends that each student have a face mask available, however, in the event that city or state officials require them.

All students in grades 6-12, including those on the virtual pathway, may still participate in extracurricular activities provided that they attend the activity period in person at their respective school site.