FAMU DRS students have two options this fall

Photo courtesy famu.edu

Expect life and learning to be dramatically different this fall at the FAMU Developmental Research School.

The administration at FAMU DRS held a virtual town hall on Tuesday to discuss the reopening plans for the 2020-2021 school year to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Many concerns were addressed regarding the safety of the Baby Rattlers.

Superintendent Micheal Johnson presented two learning options for parents so they can decide which style of learning best suits their child’s needs. Both options would require parents and guardians to sign a semester-by-semester commitment form, but according to the fall 2020 reentry plan, the hybrid option will allow students to attend a class of 15 students or fewer in classroom large enough to comply with social distancing guidelines.

Parents and guardians who select the distance learning option will see their child taking their classes mainly through the FAMU DRS distance learning platform of choice.

While both plans are fairly new and subject to change as coronavirus cases increase, Johnson assured parents that this can get students off to a decent start to the school year.

“What we present to you this evening by no means isn’t a perfect model, but it is two models that we think could at least get us started as we move forward,” Johnson said. “Everything is subject to change as more and more information becomes available.”

Another change that will be implemented for FAMU DRS is the requirement that all students and staff must wear a mask for the duration of the school day, per CDC guidelines. Parents raised the question of this negatively affecting the students’ learning, particular those with asthma. Johnson assured everyone that this is a procedure that will benefit everyone.

“Knowing that it cuts down the rate of contracting or passing on this virus, then we

DRS’s 2019 Black History Month program. Photo courtesy famudrs.org

see it fit as a team and I as a superintendent. That’s what we want to initiate for our district,” Johnson said.

Assistant Superintendent Patricia West reinforced the school’s goal to work with all students and their families, and suggested a plan to accommodate those with special needs.

“Perhaps we can set up a holding area or a room where those who have asthma can remove their mask, breathe properly and do what they need to do in order to take care of their medical condition,” West said.

Parents also inquired about the need of daily temperature checks. Students who signed up for the hybrid learning option will be required to have a daily temperature taken prior to entering the campus. Johnson elaborated more on this decision.

“If their temperature is 100.9 or above, they’re not going to be able to come on the campus, and they’re going to have to sit out for 72 hours after that,” Johnson said. “Everyone that comes on our campus will have to go through one of our five stations that we’ll have for a temperature check.”

Faculty and staff thanked parents for being involved and working together as they all adjust to what has become the new normal for schools across the country.

“We will be the first to admit that we don’t have all the answers, but we’re still thinking, working and trying to meet the needs of all of our students,” said Pink Hightower, the secondary principal. “Rest assured that everything that we do at FAMU DRS will be done for the sake of safety, and we will put our students in the best possible position to get a quality education. Safety is our number one priority.”

More information on the reopening and safety procedures can be found on the FAMU DRS website.