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District to offer options for students

When Yukon students return from the Winter Break in January, they will continue with the school district’s continuous learning plan … but only for a week.
The school board voted Monday to approve a new option that will allow parents to choose whether their students return to the classroom, use the virtual school or a program called YPS at Home.
YPS at Home will be similar to the district’s current plans for when students are in quarantine.
“It is a very independent-type of learning,” said Dr. Jason Simeroth, the district’s superintendent.
Teachers will continue to provide lesson plans and will offer brief instructional videos.
The students will have the same teachers they currently have.
Simeroth said YPS at Home will begin Jan. 11.
Students return from winter break Jan. 4.
Simeroth said the teachers asked for the extra week before starting the program to make preparations.
The vote for when to implement the new program was 4-1 with board member Leonard Wells opposing the date.
The district will also no longer follow the State Department of Education’s COVID-19 alert map, which has recently had Canadian County in the “red” category, meaning that more than 50 persons out of 100,000 have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Instead, the district will use its own numbers to make decisions about whether to return to the continuous learning plan.
Simeroth also said this will allow the district to close specific schools versus the entire district, much as it does during flu season.
Simeroth said the trigger-point will be when fewer than 80 percent of students are in attendance or if a substantial number of teachers are out of class because of the virus.
He also pointed out that part of the decision will be based on the availability of “guest” teachers, formerly known as substitutes.
Simeroth pointed out that it will be up to parents to determine whether school stays in-person.
“It will be on the parents and the community to keep our schools open,” he said.
That means wearing masks and not sending children to school when they are running a fever or are sick.
“We can’t do it on our own,” he said.
The YPS at Home plan was one of three options the school board reviewed during a discussion that lasted more than 90 minutes.
The other plans included continuing with the CLP as it stands today or giving parents the option of sending their students to virtual school or to a traditional classroom, as it was prior to the district returning to the CLP in November.
The decision to select YPS at Home was unanimous.
A representative of the district’s teaching staff said at least 13 percent of the staff had voiced concerns about returning to the classroom and would have preferred to continue the CLP.
Board member Chris Cunningham said based on the conversations he has had with parents and the comments he has received, parents want more options for their children.
“More choices are better,” he said.
Simeroth said whatever decision parents make in regards to how their children learn will be in place through at least Spring Break.
That will allow the district to establish proper staffing levels.
Parents who want their children to attend YPS at Home or virtual school will need to apply. The applications are available on the district’s website, Yukonps.com.
The deadline to apply is Dec. 16.

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