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District Studying Bringing Students Back Into Schools

Schools Superintendent John Ravally said in a letter to parents that the district is looking to increase in-school learning opportunities for students.

A plan that could eventually lead to all students having the opportunity to return to in-person learning later this school year is being studied by school district officials.

The new plan would basically eliminate the hybrid remote learning plan – through which students attend school in-person one week and remotely the next – and create groups of students who only attend in-person, and who only attend remotely, a district spokeswoman said.

Officials are also looking at the possibility of changing Friday remote learning from synchronous to asynchronous, or real-time.

The plan was alluded to in a February 19 letter to parents from schools Superintendent John Ravally.

“We recognize that there are several challenges to following such a model but are committed to exploring opportunities to increase in-person
instruction for our students, should their families choose that option,” Ravally wrote in his letter. “We hope to provide such an opportunity
later this school year, if safe and feasible for all, prior to the close of the 2020-2021 school year.”

Currently, most students are divided into Blue and Gold groups, which attend school in-person on alternating weeks, Mondays through Thursdays. The groups attend remotely on their off weeks.

Fridays are all remote, with asynchronous learning, meaning teachers give students assignments ahead of time, and students complete them when they want to.

The change now being studied by the district would bring the Blue and Gold students who have opted for in-person learning to schools every week, Mondays through Thursdays, district spokeswoman Mary Clark said. Fridays would still be remote, but the learning would be synchronous, meaning students and teachers interact in real time.

District officials are now “running the numbers” to see if they can safely bring back all of the students on the hybrid program, Clark said.

“We’re looking at and running the numbers now to see if it would be safe to have all of them come in all of the time,” she said. “We have to make sure the numbers would fit in the rooms safely” in light of COVID-19 restrictions.

“It’s a question of running those numbers, (deciding) when it would start, what would be the logistics,” she said.

“We’re very much in the beginning stages of that,” she said.

After determining if the current crop of students who are learning in-person would be able to fit in the schools at the same time, the district will study whether more students, who may choose to opt out of remote learning, would be able to fit, Clark said.

“We’re looking at can we do it and if we can, can we open it up to people who are home, and what would that look like,” she said.

She said any parent who would want to change from remote to in-person learning would have to wait about 30 days while the district arranges bus transportation and figures out how the child would fit in the classroom.

A third group of students, the Green group, is comprised of special needs students who already attend school in-person every week, Clark said. Their attendance would not change, she said.

In his letter to parents, Ravally said the district is also “seeking strategies that will enable us to increase virtual learning time and want to gain your input on the possibility of restructuring asynchronous Fridays to include more synchronous learning opportunities.”

That would entail changing from asynchronous to synchronous learning on Fridays, Clark said.

Part of the district’s decision will be based on responses to a survey parents were invited to complete, Clark said. She said there was no timeline as to when the district would reach a decision.

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