The transition to planning instruction in the hybrid model is complex. However, we are committed to the work in order to welcome our students back into our schools and classrooms for in-person learning. We know this is beneficial socially, emotionally, and academically. While we would prefer to have all students in school in our typical fashion pre-COVID, we know that is not possible at this time. With the implementation of significant risk-mitigation strategies, including the requirements for facial coverings by all who come into our buildings (students and staff) and social distancing, the district is confident we can follow the updated guidance of Franklin County Public Health to return to school with approximately 50% of our students in person at a time.
We communicated some of the details of the hybrid plan last week. We had intended to provide even more detail, but the Bexley Education Association raised some questions, and we felt it was important to take the time to collaborate on solutions to communicate accurately. We value the partnership with the BEA and appreciate the many ways that we collaborate, especially during this pandemic.
- We all acknowledge that students must have five (5) days of learning in the hybrid model. We are working to close learning gaps from the spring as well as historical learning gaps that exist for some of our student groups. The only way to meet this goal and to move students forward in their learning is five (5) days of learning each week (given a five day week).
- In a 5 day week, students will have three (3) days of synchronous learning (or live, real-time lessons) with their teachers. Two of these days will be in person and all students will have distance learning at least one day per week, generally Wednesday. (HS teachers will communicate their weekly plans to students.)
- In a 5 day week, students will have two asynchronous days of learning. These days will be designed to keep students moving forward in the curriculum. Teachers will have the flexibility to design these days as they determine is best for their particular students based upon where they are in the curriculum. Learning may be accomplished via a pre-recorded lesson from the teacher, a live lesson via Zoom or Google Meet, or through independent inquiry-based activities that will be posted in Canvas or Google Classroom. Teachers will communicate to their students’ parents and guardians about their approaches in advance and will address parent/guardian questions about the remote learning days given they have the flexibility to design those days. Therefore, if you have any questions about the asynchronous learning days, please direct those to your child’s teacher. We ask that you allow the teachers the time to communicate with you before you send questions.
- September 11th and the 16th will be asynchronous learning days for students in grades K-8 to allow teachers time to finalize preparations for the transition to hybrid. There will be no live teaching required these days. However, attendance still must be taken. We have been told that HS teachers have made plans specific to their students and will communicate with them.
- We acknowledge that welcoming students back into our schools for instruction is both exciting and will take the full attention of our staff. Please understand that during the week of September 21 teachers will be fully focused on welcoming their students back into our schools and classrooms after more than six (6) months away. We will prioritize our attention to developing relationships and routines and adjusting to our new protocols. While at-home students will have meaningful learning activities, it will be even more independent during that first week. We also acknowledge that teachers will need to provide very clear instructions for the independent work so that students can be successful.
Some parents have asked us to consider an a.m./p.m. model at the elementary level. The Back to School Task Force looked at this model and wanted to make it work, but the CDC cleaning protocols could not be met. While those protocols have changed, we are not able to implement this model now because we did not spend time developing it. I met with BEA leadership on Wednesday, September 9, to finalize hybrid plans and to discuss the ability of teachers to shift to the a.m./p.m model now that the cleaning requirements are less stringent. They agreed that to make such a shift by September 21 is simply not manageable due to the number of consideration to be addressed including:
- Planning time, time for professional development, and staff meetings
- Allied Arts - if students are in school only half a day (likely 3 hours), we will need to develop a structure to support allied arts learning
- Implementation of science, social studies, and health learning experiences
- Band and Orchestra- our teachers teach across buildings and schedules would have to be arranged so that elementary students in both AM and PM can have access to band and orchestra instruction
- Special Education - some teachers are working in more than one building or part-time
- Special Education teachers and related service personnel provide intervention across grade levels
We could convene a team of elementary teachers to look at the possibility of this model, but not at this time. Our teachers have extensive work to make the planned hybrid model work. We must let our staff work on the hybrid model that we have planned all summer before asking them to plan for yet another model. Further, we have additional work that we must continue in the area of anti-racism and equity. We are also focused on closing learning gaps. To add another complex issue for staff and families to navigate, convene a committee, and work on this problem would pull staff from the significant work in which we are already engaged.
Also, as we begin to welcome students back, we plan to implement the more rigorous cleaning protocols, even though not required, as we believe it will be helpful for students, staff, and parents during the first weeks of transition back to the buildings.
Building principals will provide more information in their upcoming newsletters, as will teachers to their specific students.