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Capital students to start school year at home Sept. 8

Emily Lytle
Dover Post
File photo of Capital School District sign and administration offices.

All Capital School District students will start school virtually Tuesday, Sept. 8 and continue through Tuesday, Oct. 20. The school board will then meet and reevaluate the possibility of returning to school for some degree of in-person learning. 

School board members unanimously approved this decision in a meeting Aug. 6 after district staff presented a plan for reopening schools this fall. 

Paul Dunford, director of instruction, represented the district’s reopening committees. He presented a plan to teach students with a hybrid approach, mixing in-person and remote learning. 

While Dunford said he wishes all students could safely return to learning in schools, “Our goal was to create the best possible scenario for the Senator nation,” he said. “It’s our true north.”

Board member Sean Christiansen asked district staff to encourage teachers to teach from their classrooms as they begin remote learning this fall. He said this, as well as grading and attendance policies, could help motivate students. Dunford agreed.

“It’s a real school year now,” Dunford said. “Grades need to be real and not just accomplished.”

The board’s decision pushes students’ first day of school to after Labor Day, giving teachers time to prepare for remote learning Aug. 25 through Sept. 4. The district also plans to host a virtual open house during this time to help families understand the new ways of learning this year.

In the committees’ initial plan, all students would start online and would have the option to learn from home for the entire school year. After that completely virtual phase, students would start to come back to school in waves. 

Dunford recommended a tentative timeline where pre-K through second grade students begin coming back two days a week starting Sept. 21. The next week would bring back third and fourth graders, and then some fifth through 12th graders would return the following week. 

The school board voted to push back any in-person learning to late October at the earliest. 

A scene showing storm damage at William Henry Middle School, a Capital School District building that was condemned after Tropical Storm Isaias.

More Capital School District news

William Henry Middle School update: Adewunmi Kuforiji, interim assistant superintendent, said the district is waiting to hear from the state’s insurance office after the roof of the school's gymnasium was partially ripped off during Tropical Storm Isaias Aug. 4. The Dover Fire Marshal's Office later condemned the building.

Insurance officers and representatives from the Delaware Emergency Management Agency inspected the building Aug. 5. “It was quite tragic to see,” Kuforiji said. As of Aug. 6, the gymnasium roof had been covered and all water removed from the building, he said. Any ceiling tiles that fell down have been removed.

New board positions: In a unanimous school board vote, Chanda Jackson-Short was approved as the new board president and Sean Christiansen as vice president.