BUTLER — Nearly 57% of respondents to a DeKalb Eastern school district survey said they would choose a virtual or remote instructional option if face masks or coverings were required for students during all or portions of the school day.
Given the choice between in-person or virtual attendance, 68.5% of respondents picked in-person attendance compared to 31.5% in favor of virtual/remote instruction.
With information shared Thursday by DeKalb Eastern Superintendent Dr. Jeff Stephens, masks will be highly recommended for students, but not required in the classroom when the new school year starts Aug. 4.
Students riding school buses will be required to wear masks, he said.
The school district released survey results Thursday on its website, dekalbeastern.com, and on its Facebook page.
The online survey attracted 641 responses. The respondents are parents of nearly 800 students in the school district, with 20 in preschool to 106 in eighth grade and 110 in ninth grade. Ninety-two respondents each represented students in grades 11 and 12, while 90 indicated they have sixth-grade students.
“I’m very thankful that we have that large of a response. That’s not typical in a survey,” Stephens said. “I want to thank everybody that took the time to answer. The survey helped clarify where we’re going to start and how we’re going to open.
“Originally, we were anticipating that masks were going to be required. That has now changed where they will be highly recommended for students,” Stephens said. “They will be required for the buses, but they will not be required during the instructional day. Faculty and staff will be masked anytime they are in proximity to students.”
Superintendents at DeKalb Central, DeKalb Eastern and Garrett-Keyser-Butler met earlier this week with DeKalb County Health Officer Dr. Mark Souder.
DeKalb Eastern will implement new operating procedures this fall, Stephens added.
At school, each student will be provided with three numbered, color-coded face masks to be rotated during the week, as well as individual water bottles for their personal use.
Students will take each day’s mask home and return it to school the next day. School officials will collect the masks to be washed and returned to the students.
In the survey, 24.5% of respondents indicated they were undecided about sending their children to school if masks were required to be worn all day. Another 22.5% indicated they would send their children while 22.3% said they would not send their children to school if masks were required all day.
Another 19.3% said they likely would not send their children to school if masks were required all day, while 11.4% said they likely would send their children to school.
If masks are worn in moderation, with classroom settings to allow for social distancing, 25.7% of respondents said they would send their children to school. Another 19% stated they would be likely to send their children to school.
In response to the same question, 17.8% said they would not send their children to school if masks are worn in moderation, while 13.3% said they would be “not likely” to send their children to school. Another 24.2% were undecided.
Nearly 56% of respondents said they would be willing or able to have their children self-transported to and from school, compared to 44.1% saying no.
If a mask or facial covering is required to ride the bus, 32.3% said they were “not very likely” to send their children on the bus. Another 11.7% indicated they were “not likely” to send their children on the bus.
In response to the same question, 19.7% said they were “very likely” send their children on a school bus. Another 13.3% indicated they were “likely” to send their children on a bus, while 23.1% were undecided.
School officials and teachers will meet Tuesday to settle additional plans for the new school year.
The public school superintendents met today with Souder about their survey results.
“We’re going to be posting service announcements next week — I anticipate those going live on Wednesday — that will explain how we’re going to do remote learning, if that’s an option parents want to exercise,” Stephens said.
“We’ll be looking at what nursing practices will look like within the schools, and we’ll also be doing a video on what the cleaning process will be throughout the schools.
“Following that, we’re going to send out a survey again. This time, we’ll be asking for names, number of kids, grade level and school that we will then use to start planning who’s going to be riding buses, who’s not, who’s going to be at school, who’s taking remote learning options,” Stephens added.
Families who don’t respond will be contacted in order to gather as much information as possible.
“That being said, we still have not quite a month before we start,” he said. “Things could change drastically between now and then.