Marlow Schools Release Reopening Plan

by Elizabeth Pitts-Hibbard
Photo by Faith Leatherman Photo by Faith Leatherman

Marlow Public Schools administrators and faculty have worked throughout the summer to develop a plan to reopen for the fall semester, and announced on Monday the district learning options and guidelines for the 2020-2021 school year.

Superintendent George Coffman said that he met last Tuesday with principals at each campus, and on Wednesday with all superintendents in Stephens County to discuss implementing guide-lines as consistently as possible. On Monday, he met with elementary, middle-, and high school faculty throughout the day to discuss the plan and make adjustments.

The District will offer two options for learning in the fall semester: the traditional classroom setting and a full virtual option. The virtual option will require an application and students must have a designated learning coach at home to provide assistance and supervision. The virtual option, once the application is approved, must be committed to for the duration of the semester, and virtual learners are not eligible to participate in extracurricular activities or sports. Students will also have the opportunity to utilize the virtual option temporarily in the event of illness or a school site closure.

Coffman said that all teachers will be on-site at the schools, or teaching via chromebooks if at home; there will not be an outside company or software utilized for distance learning. “It will be our teachers teaching,” Coffman said.

The traditional, in-person classroom setting will implement social distancing, temperature checks, and cleaning procedures to enhance the safety and protect the health of students and faculty.

• Masks: Masks or face shields are required for all administration, faculty, and support staff; they are recommended, but not required, for all students unless mandated by the State Department of Education or the Governor.

• Temperatures taken: The District purchased infrared thermometers for each classroom and office at all campuses, and temperatures will be taken and recorded upon entry to the classroom. Anyone entering a school building will also have their temperature taken. If a student has a temperature of 100 degrees or above, they will be taken to a designated isolation room and parents contacted.

• Transportation: Bus routes will resume; drivers will wear goggles and masks and implement seating charts for riders. All bus riders must wear masks. Windows will be open to promote air circulation.

• Child Nutrition: The high school campus will remain open for lunch; students will have temperatures taken upon return to class. Self-serve will no longer be an option in cafe-terias, including salad bars and condiments. Elementary students who bring their lunch-es will eat in the classroom. Lunch guests and lunch drop-offs are not permitted. Virtual learners and temporary virtual learners will be able to pick up breakfast and lunch be-tween 9:30 am and 10:30 am at the elementary school cafeteria via drive-through.

• Water fountains: All water fountains are turned off. Students are encouraged to bring their own water bottle from home (cleaned daily); bottled water will be available to students.

• Special Education/IEP: All IEP meetings will be held virtually.

• Meet the Teacher Night: Teachers will contact students to “meet the teacher” and school supplies will be dropped off in a drive-through event to be scheduled.

• Cleaning: All classrooms, athletic facilities, and buses will be disinfected and fogged daily.

Coffman emphasized the importance of parental communication, not just for virtual learners but for all students, and encourages parents to visit the school website,, for updates regularly. In a letter to parents, Coffman said, “Our top priority to keep everyone safe while not making life more difficult for our parents…Our goal is to find the best way to have our students safely in our buildings as frequently as possible while ensuring the health and well-being of all.”

Coffman outlined how parents can help make the school year go smoothly:

• Follow the guidelines set out by the District

• Continue to be flexible with adjustments that are set by the State Department of Education and state health officials

• Donate hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, masks, infrared thermometers, and other supplies to schools

• Begin planning for childcare and virtual learning in the event that schools are closed or students have an extended absence; prepare students for using devices for virtual learn-ing if necessary

• Keep students home if they experience any symptoms of illness

• Make sure students have masks available for use when necessary; begin encouraging students to wear masks and become comfortable doing so

• Ensure contact information on file is current

• Assist with Stephens County Health Department contact tracing if necessary

Coffman said that the community can help as well by donating necessary supplies or signing up to be substitute teachers in the event that a faculty member becomes ill or is quarantined.

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