Sussex Tech to start year with modified remote learning

GEORGETOWN — Sussex Technical High School students will begin the school year on a modified remote-learning plan through the first marking period, with teachers having the flexibility to hold in-person programs on a voluntary basis with parent permission, the Sussex County Vocational Technical School District announced today.

“This approach aims to protect our students and staff while still providing students the great career-technical education they deserve,” Acting Superintendent Dr. Kevin Carson said in a prepared statement. “Our staff has been hard at work, and this was the best and most workable approach.”

The district’s board of education voted to approve the plan Thursday evening, joining other districts across the state grappling with the same decision.

Gov. John Carney announced Aug. 4 that school districts could open with a mix of in-person and remote instruction. The Delaware Department of Education released a 34-page Returning to School guidance that addressed transportation, cleaning, mask-wearing, social distancing and more.

After Gov. Carney’s announcement, local decisions began across the state.
Polytech, another Downstate technical district, will have students complete in-school instruction one day a week and remote learning four days per week. On two of those four remote days, Polytech will provide “whole-class remote learning.” For the other two days, the district will have students Zoom into the class that’s occurring on-site.

“Personally, I’m very happy that we are able to do the hybrid model because of the fact that we are a … technical school district. Without that hands-on learning time, our students can’t learn their technical programs well enough to get their certification and licensure and be prepared to work,” said Polytech Superintendent Amelia Hodges during a board meeting earlier this month.

Other districts throughout the state have determined remote starts with some in-person opportunities, like Lake Forest and Caesar Rodney, before phasing into a fuller hybrid model.

Under the modified remote plan for Sussex Tech, students will have remote instruction, and assignments will be delivered through the Schoology online platform. District leadership will evaluate the remote learning plan each marking period, examining current health statistics and state guidance in determining the direction for the second marking period.

Students will complete preassessments in all classes. Teachers will have nine days of in-service time before the start of school to develop fully remote lesson plans and assignments. Technical teachers will focus this fall on classroom-based and theory instruction, with hands-on work anticipated to take place in the spring or through in-school opportunities, according to a news release.

The approved plan is based upon several months of work by district staff, teachers and other stakeholders examining instructional and operational issues; a survey of parents on their preferences and logistics; and guidance from the DOE and the Delaware Division of Public Health, the news release states.

Students and staff who are on campus are to follow all recommended precautions, including daily temperature and symptom screenings, mandatory mask-wearing, social distancing and frequent hand-washing, the news release states. Sussex Tech staff will continue frequent cleaning of high-contact surfaces and daily thorough cleanings of the entire building. Adult Education programs are to continue utilizing appropriate safety protocols.

The board previously voted to delay the start of the school year to give teachers additional time to prepare. The year will begin following Labor Day on Sept. 8. Further information will be sent to students and families directly from Sussex Tech.