Questions and Answers - Back to School 2020

Ray-Pec Fast Chat with Dr. Slagle

Superintendent Dr. Mike Slagle talks with Dr. Kristel Barr, Director of Secondary Education, about virtual classes provided through Launch, an online course program based in the Springfield, Mo., School District.

Superintendent Dr. Mike Slagle visits with Dr. Michelle Hofmann, Director of Elementary Education to answer questions about the return to school for elementary school students.

Superintendent Dr. Mike Slagle talks with Dr. Kristel Barr, Director of Secondary Education, about the return to school for students in grades 6-12.

Superintendent Dr. Mike Slagle visits with Marlena Walley, Director of Special Education, about the return to school.

Superintendent Dr. Mike Slagle visits with Dr. Al Voelker to answer parent questions about the return to school.

Here are answers to specific questions about the Ray-Pec School District re-entry plan.

General Questions

  1. I have more than one child. Can one student register for virtual learning and the other student go to in-person classes? Yes.  Each student is different and one may do well in a virtual learning environment while another may prefer in-person classes.

  2. Regarding future COVID-19 cases - If school would close, would students be required to transition to VIPR or another online learning platform? In the event of a school closure,  in-person teachers would transition coursework to alternate methods of instruction online/virtually for their students; students would not automatically transition to VIPR teachers.

  3. Has there been a determination on the maximum class size?  As the physical size of classrooms varies across the district, establishing a maximum class size for grade spans is difficult. If you have a concern about class size, please contact your child's school.
  4. If a teacher or student tests positive for COVID-19 and they have children or siblings also in the school district, will the children and siblings also be required to quarantine for 14 days?  Guidelines and decisions related to quarantining are made by the Cass County Health Department (CCHD).  The District will continue to consult the CCHD in these situations. In general, individuals who have had direct contact with someone for over 15 minutes of time who have tested positive for Covid-19 would be required to quarantine.  Often, those conditions do apply to siblings and other family members. 

  5. How will contact tracing be handled at the high school, due to the passing for class changes and such? The Cass County Health Department will determine how contact tracing is achieved. 
  6. It sounds like, once you register, it may be difficult to move from one option to the other. Once the July 21 registration is complete, will the district send out information to parents about class sizes and such and allow for a short period to reevaluate?  We are asking parents to make a choice regarding virtual instruction or in-person classes so we can better plan for both options.  After announcing the decision to implement an alternative schedule, the District extended the choice deadline to July 24. Parents may submit a change request for consideration if they wish to move from in-person classes to virtual. Changes will only be made if space/availability allows. Families who chose VIPR before the deadline will be enrolled first in VIPR and have a guaranteed spot. Every attempt will be made to enroll students in VIPR after the deadline if requested, but the decision will be based on availability.
  7. If we choose virtual learning, will we be able to check out a Chromebook from the school? Yes, students in grades 1-12 receive a Chromebook. Kindergartners receive an iPad.
  8. What about sports? Ray-Pec High School athletic teams and activity groups have begun fall sports seasons. The District will work closely with the Suburban Conference as the school year continues. Here is the July 15 guidance from the Missouri State High School Activities Association.
  9. My child’s pediatrician will provide a note for school to exempt him/her from being sent home for symptoms as some of him/her daily symptoms due to him/her diagnoses would mean he/she could never attend. Is this okay? Any parent seeking a possible exception to protocols will need to first provide detailed medical information to the principal and school nurse. These decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Face coverings

  1. Will teachers wear face masks while lecturing/talking out to the class?  Teachers will wear face masks if they are closer than the recommended guidelines from students.  Again, 6 feet (grades 6-12) and 3 feet (EC-5) is the current guidance we are following.
  2. In some classes, tables are used in place of desks. Will the tables be replaced with desks or will students still utilize the tables and have to wear a face mask while at the table?  Whether tables or desks are used, student seating will be configured so that the distance between seats meets the precaution guidelines whenever possible.  The same rules for mask-wearing will apply.

School Meals

  1. In the email, it states that breakfast and lunch would be consumed in the classroom, if possible. In what scenario would students eat in the cafeteria versus their classroom?  At this time, we anticipate eating in classrooms until further notice pending change in our public health situation.  In cases where a class has a student with certain nut allergy, an alternate location for lunch will be arranged for the class, still following the same precautions and guidelines.
  2. Can students bring their own lunch from home? Yes. Please note: There will be no access to microwaves and refrigerators for lunch storage. 

Special Education

  1. How will my child’s IEP be implemented if I choose virtual learning? The VIPR FAQ explains how special education services will be implemented.
  2. What changes will take place for special education if I choose in-person learning? All adults will wear face masks if they are closer than 6 feet (grades 6-12) and 3 feet (EC-5) from students. Parents will be notified if there are students within the special education classroom who are unable to wear a mask due to the nature of their disability.  In some instances, individual planning for students may be warranted.

Elementary School

  1. Will Panther Pride be open to provide before and after school child care? At this time, we plan to offer child care through Panther Pride. 

  2. Recess:

    • Will masks be required at recess? With the current guidance, students will not be required to wear masks as long as physical distancing can be maintained. They will wash hands/sanitize before and after recess, and we will minimize the number of classes at one time. Wearing masks will depend on the activity being undertaken by students. Many recess activities will require masks because physical distancing is not maintained.

    • Will students be allowed to play interactive sports, such as kickball, tag, four square, etc?  Tag is not allowed on the elementary playground due to injury risk. Other activities might require masks, but may be allowed if proper sanitizing and safety procedures are followed.  

    • Has there been a determination on the number of students or classes that will go out at 1 time?  We will minimize the number of classes at one time to allow us to follow the listed precautions.

  3. From what I understand by reading the VIPR Handbook, elementary students who do the VIPR option would be provided a Chromebook. Is this correct?  That is correct. (Kindergarten students will receive an iPad.)

  4. Will there still be specials? Art, music, P.E.? Yes.

  5. What will gifted programming look like? Gifted education will continue. Gifted services will look different, and planning by our teachers is currently underway. More information will be communicated to parents of gifted students once the year begins.

Middle School and High School

  1. After reviewing the VIPR handbook, I did not see any Advanced Placement or Dual Credit courses listed. Will DC and AP courses be offered?  As of right now, those are not on the list. However, if VIPR enrollment warrants it, they may be added. Currently, many AP courses are offered through Launch and we will enroll a student in those as needed.  

  2. Will students who choose the virtual option have the opportunity to take advanced courses?  Yes, if enough students request advanced courses through VIPR, we will develop those. If not, we can access the Launch course catalog and enroll students in advanced courses listed there. Launch courses   

  3. My student wants to sign up for virtual learning, but none of the classes she enrolled in are available in VIPR. What should we do?  Please check the Launch course catalog as well. Some modifications to a student’s schedule might be necessary to access full online coursework.
  4. The School Reopening Handbook states that visitors will not be permitted. How will this affect the mentoring and tutoring program?  The district is working on a way to still allow students to mentor/tutor in order to qualify for A+. Should mentors/tutors be allowed in the schools, they would have to follow the same safety guidelines as teachers when working with students.

  5. The District announced that it may implement an alternative schedule for grades 6-12. Under such a plan, the days students are not in school physically will be used for self-directed and independent learning. How would this work? Would they be required to utilize VIPR or some other online learning platform on these days?  They would not utilize VIPR. Instead, teachers will give students work through Canvas based on direct teaching that had occurred during in-person instruction. 

  6. My son took Advanced English 2 last year and had signed up for Advanced Placement English Composition this year. Based on the courses listed, which one would take if there is not an AP option? A student may enroll in an Advanced Placement course through Launch, or if enough students request it, it may be offered through VIPR.
  7. Will the classes offered during the original enrollment period last winter still be offered for in-person? Will additional classes be added to VIPR? If so, when will this be announced?  Yes, we intend to offer the classes from the original enrollment period as in-person classes.  However, this depends on how many students choose virtual learning. Additional classes may be added to VIPR, depending upon enrollment. Some students may be able to access additional classes, such as Dual Credit College Algebra, through Launch. Launch classes are listed here: At the end of the VIPR handbook, courses are listed.  
  8. Will High School students still have Panther Time? We do not believe there is a safe way to offer Panther Time under the current guidelines. That could change as conditions evolve.

  9. In the VIPR Handbook, it discusses the option of a “mixed schedule.” Is there more information on this? If they were to do a “mixed schedule” is this something that they would have to do in person at the high school? No, a mixed schedule means a mix of VIPR and Launch coursework.  Both of these options are online and available in grades 6-12.  A mixed schedule is not an option at the elementary level.  
  10. In the VIPR Handbook under the section on Dropping a Course, it states that a a VIPR student can enroll in a Launch class if it is a class the VIPR does not offer.
    1. Does this mean that if the student has taken or did not want to take the electives offered through VIPR, they could sign up for electives through Launch? If VIPR does not offer a course that Launch does, the student may be able to take the Launch course. It should be noted that families who want to enroll in Launch must do so through the Ray-Pec school district, not on their own.
    2. How do we get the list of Launch classes available?
    3. If we select virtual learning because someone in the home is high risk and the students has already taken the virtual options and Launch does not offer what they need, do we have any other virtual options? Through VIPR and Launch, the district will make sure any course needed for graduation will be offered. This does not mean every course wanted may be offered, however.
  11. What about band/orchestra/choir/theatre classes? Will they be canceled? Will they be available to students who choose virtual learning? We are working with our fine arts teachers to study ways in which to provide these courses in-person. Their professional organizations are offering insights/suggestions. Our intent at this time is to offer these courses in-person.  Band/Orchestra/Choir are not offerings available in an online format.  Students will need to attend full in-person learning to access most performance based classes.
  12. Will my student be able to take Practical Arts and/or Fine Arts courses online? We are looking to offer some practical and fine arts electives dependent upon enrollment.  Launch courses also have fine and practical arts offerings.  
  13. If middle school and high school have to go to an every-other-day schedule, will they have virtual class on days that they are at home? Yes, their in-person teachers will provide the virtual instruction on those days.  Instruction may include practice of skills learned, an extension of what was learned during the in-person time as well activities to prepare the students for new learning.
  14. Will middle schoolers and high schoolers have passing periods? At this time, middle school and high school will have passing periods. Masks will be required during passing periods as it will not be likely that students will be able to physically distance more than 6 ft.
  15. Are the middle school and high school classrooms big enough to maintain six feet of social distance, or should we just tell the kids they will have their masks on all day? With a traditional class enrollment (of 30), the classrooms are not large enough. This is why we are asking parents to choose in-person or VIPR learning so we can determine what class sizes will be. Once we know that, we will determine if we need an A/B schedule to further lower class size numbers so distancing can be maintained.  Students should be prepared to bring masks every day.
  16. Will debate class be eligible for VIPR? Possibly.  Again, this depends on enrollment.  If there are enough students enrolled, we are prepared to offer this class via VIPR.
  17. I am asking that until there is a proper vaccine that my student can go to school for the one class that she will HAVE to be there for, then do the rest of the classes at home. She has a car and is not a bus rider. In-person classes will take every precaution possible. As there is no vaccine that exists, we cannot put that in place at this time. If a student enrolls in VIPR, they are a VIPR student with no in-person courses.