Parent, staff surveys part of district’s planning

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

890 responses submitted for survey closing today

The Monett school district is aggregating data from a parent and staff survey in an ongoing effort to formulate its plans for returning to school in August while COVID-19 (coronavirus) is still a concern.

Russ Moreland, Monett superintendent, said the district has a rough draft of its plans for reentry, but the situation is fluid, and surveys submitted to patrons of the district are an important piece of the reentry puzzle.

“We want people to know we are really trying to find the safest options and plans for our students and staff, because we want the kids back — but, we want to be safe,” Moreland said.

Moreland said the myriad of plans presented at the recent school board meeting and publicized in The Monett Times represents a rough draft of what reentry will look like. The district is also planning to send out a second round of surveys next week, and superintendents of all districts in Barry and Lawrence counties are set to meet with the respective counties’ health departments on Aug. 3 in Monett.

“We sent out our survey early on the week of July 13, and we met in the interim to start making general plans,” Moreland said. “We want that feedback from our parents and staff on specific things, especially at each building.

“We want to encourage social distancing, and depending on each building’s layout, that will look different at each building. We will use the surveys as a part of the planning going into this year.”

Some of the questions in the survey polled parents and staff about if they believe they see their students on campus this fall or doing virtual instruction? Are they comfortable with students participating in athletics and extracurricular activities?

Do they support the use of masks? When it comes to transportation, have they utilized it in the past, and if so, would they plan to utilize it again this year?

“These are all things we are talking about, and we want the feedback,” Moreland said. “Like with transportation, we are encouraging parents to bring their students themselves if they can to help keep bus rider numbers down until things are better under control.”

Moreland said the second survey likely to go out next week would be more detail-oriented, and it will help the district determine things like staffing for in-person versus virtual instruction.

“The timing is a challenge because if we had sent surveys out a month ago, the results probably would have been different,” he said. “The increase in positive cases locally may have had an effect on our answers now. One of the things we don’t know is if the opinions on masks have changed in the last 10 days or will change in the next 10 days.”

For the first survey, about 890 responses have been received, including 783 from parents or guardians, 23 from staff and 83 from staff who are also parents or guardians.

Building-wise, 44.7 percent were submitted regarding the high school, 33.5 percent for Monett Elementary School, 26 percent for the middle school, 25 percent for Central Park Elementary and 24 percent for the intermediate school. People taking the survey could mark multiple buildings, as some families have children on different campuses.

“People want a concrete answer to a fluid problem,” Moreland said. Whatever we come up with will be sent to the schools and health departments in both counties. I anticipate we will have a more concrete direction next week, then we will do the second survey.

“We are taking these surveys seriously and reading all of them. We are trying to find the most creative ways to make a safe environment and bring the kids back to school.”

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