Zionsville Community Schools on Getting Back to School

July 2020

The Zionsville Community School (ZCS) district unveiled its “Eagle Start Plan” earlier this month to act as a living guide as administrators, educators, parents and students prepare to start the 2020–21 school year on August 10. (This was the most recently revised date at the time of publishing.) That plan was revised on July 22, 2020, per the Boone County Health Department’s (BCHD) recommendations on reopening the schools.

The Revised Schedule For The 2020-21 School Year

In accordance with the recommendation from BCHD and guidance from local health experts, ZCS developed a new middle and high school schedule that allows for the implementation of the strategies suggested by BCHD so that in the future ZCS may have the opportunity to have all ZCS students back in schools at the same time . (Details of the new schedule are shown below in table format.)

  • The start time for all secondary school days will be 9:00AM (as noticed last week).
  • The elementary start time will remain at 8:00AM (with Kindergarten starting at 9:00AM).

ZCS elementary IN-PERSON students will come to school five (5) days a week and remain with their classroom cohort throughout the day. ZCS elementary REMOTE students will be assigned to a remote-only grade level teacher. If BCHD designates ZCS to be in the high category, all elementary students will move to online from home with one day a week focused upon counselor social-emotional lessons, related arts, and literacy/numeracy skills.

Students in ZCS secondary schools [Middle and High Schools] will see the following features of their weekly school schedule:

Zionsville Community
  • Remote students will be online for all days of instruction.
  • Monday is an all online day for middle and high school students.
  • Monday will operate on a seven-period schedule.
  • Tuesday through Friday will rotate separate cohorts of students (Cohort A = Students with last names A-K; Cohort B = Students with last names L-Z) on a block schedule that will look as follows:
    • Tuesday and Wednesday: ONLY Cohort A students attend in person
      • Tuesday Schedule: first four of eight block periods (Green Day)
      • Wednesday Schedule: second four of eight block periods (Silver Day)
      • All remote and Cohort B students participate in the same schedule online
    • Thursday and Friday: ONLY Cohort B students attend in person
      • Thursday Schedule: first four of eight block periods (Green Day)
      • Friday Schedule: second four of eight block periods (Silver Day)
      • All remote and Cohort A students participate in the same schedule online
  • All in person elementary students will attend in person every school day.
  • All remote elementary students will attend remotely each day with their designated, ZCS instructor at the lead.

Important Terms and Other Information to Know

  • REMOTE STUDENTS: Students who always receive instruction at home (based on parental choice). Secondary remote students will be instructed synchronously by logging in to their scheduled classes at the appropriate times. Elementary remote students will be assigned to a designated remote-only teacher who will lead their group’s instruction.
  • IN-PERSON STUDENTS: These are students who come to school for some or all of their instruction (based upon parent choice). At the middle and high school levels, in-person students are designated to be in one or the other of two cohorts as follows:
    • COHORT A: Secondary students with last names A-K.
      • These students are learning online on Mondays when we are in the mid or high categories for scheduling.
      • These students are in person on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
      • These students are online (synchronously) on Thursdays and Fridays.
    • COHORT B: Secondary students with last names L-Z.
      • These students are learning online on Mondays when we are in the mid or high categories for scheduling.
      • These students are online (synchronously) on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
      • These students are in person on Thursdays and Fridays.
    • HOME:  In the table just above, the word “Home” is used to indicate that members of this cohort are learning from home on the designated days, and in a synchronous day. That is, they will participate in the green day and silver day rotations of class periods by logging on at home during the designated periods as driven by the bell schedule.

A Brief Q&A With Dr. Robison

Dr. Scott Robison

If there is an event (performing arts concert, art exhibition, etc.) where attendance is mandatory, how does that affect a remote-learning student who needs to avoid exposure to COVID-19?

Dr. Robison: In the past, there have been those types of events that may have been perceived as mandatory, and there’s always been work-arounds for specific situations. So, instructors will continue to assist the child with alternatively participating in an experience with something that is appropriate for that particular curriculum. For those who may have missed the announcement, the Indiana State School Music Association recently cancelled all band competitions for this fall.”

Will being a “remote-learner” status affect the textbook rental and supplies fees any differently than being an in-person learning status?

Dr. Robison: If you need materials for the course—regardless if you’re a remote learner or in-person—it is our intent that there should be no difference [in the fees] and the COVID-19 situation should not cause any additional cost in a way that would not have been incurred for the classes. If it’s being included in the class [remote or in-person], it will be on the textbook rental fees statement. And in terms of the basic requirements for a course, and whatever computing power you will need for that course, it will be specified for the course in advance.

With regards to quarantine protocols, all confirmed positive cases (student or staff) must be reported to the Boone County Health Department, correct?

Dr. Robison: That is correct. The Boone County Health Department will help us navigate, and what that means is they are the experts on what we will need to do. We are literally going to navigate this on a case-by-case basis and on the orders of the health department. People will self-screen their child or children and answer questions about their possible exposure and about whether or not they’ve had a temperature or other symptoms in a certain amount of time, and that [screening] is expected to be submitted on every child and every employee every single day. We will supply the parents and staff with access to this daily screening prior to the start of school on August 4.

What are the protocols for bus riders?

Dr. Robison: Two per seat is what has been approved by the Boone County Health Department, and there will be assigned seats, which will help with contact tracing efforts. Everybody has to wear masks [while on the bus], and we will open the windows whenever the weather is conducive.

How will NWEA and regular course testing occur with remote learners?

Dr. Robison: We are currently working on what options and processes will be in place for NWEA testing, and we’ve already experienced ‘remote’ testing [for course tests and finals] last May, and we don’t really see a problem there. We will have technological work-arounds for testing, so we don’t anticipate it being a problem.

With regards to when the administration would decide if another shutdown is necessary (assuming a pandemic surge in our county were to occur), how will that decision be made and who plays a part in that difficult decision beyond the governor?

Dr. Robison: It is important for folks to know that we [ZCS administrators] are not doing this unilaterally. I’m not a health professional or a scientist with expertise in public health. So, we have a number of contributing folks, including many local medical doctors and scientists who have stepped up to assist me in understanding things [pandemic related]. Again, I don’t make these decisions unilaterally—we also have a five-member elected board who ultimately are the folks who decide things that need to be decided for the district. The Boone County Health Department has been extremely responsive, and we are appreciative of that partnership.

To review the ZCS Eagle Start Plan in its entirety, click on the ZCS link below!

EAGLE START GUIDE:  The Eagle Start Guide is located on the ZCS website at www.zcs.k12.in.us. The landing page link will update as plan changes are made. Changes related to this message will be reflected in the online guide by the end of this week. Changes will be captured separately on a tab called Plan Updates so you can easily see what has changed. ZCS has also added an FAQ tab. Questions and answers will be updated as new questions arise.