School Days: Scarice Recommends Hybrid Model

With less than a month to go before the school year begins, the look of that year is becoming clear.

Last night, in a Zoom meeting with the Board of Education, superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice recommended a hybrid model. It’s different at each level, but consistent in one way: All students — at least, all who do not choose full-time remote learning — would spend half their time in school, half at home.

Staples High School would have 2 cohorts, based alphabetically on last name (A-K, L-Z).

One cohort would be in school Monday and Tuesday; the other, Thursday and Friday. There would be 4 classes a day; each class is 80 minutes long. When students are not in school, they’d be online.

On Wednesday, all students would learn remotely. The highly touted Connections group meetings would be held that day too.

The final 30 minutes of each day are set aside for teachers to support and connect with remote learners.

Staples high School

The middle school model divides students into cohorts too — both alphabetical, and based on their “home school” (Bedford or Coleytown). One group would in school Monday and Thursday, online Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. The other group is in school Tuesday and Friday, online Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

All middle school students would be online Wednesday, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. On that day, teachers will have professional responsibility time from 12:30 to 3:15.

Bedford Middle School (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

The elementary school model was developed thanks to “herculean, unparalleled work” by professionals at all 5 schools, Scarice said.

The elementary model — which emphasizes literacy and math for live instruction — splits youngsters into morning and afternoon groups. There would be live “online specials” when students are home; phys. ed., art, music and Spanish are taught once a week. Small group instrumental lessons and ensembles would be taught virtually. Students would eat at home.

Stepping Stones Preschool would be “business as close to usual” as possible. The class size is 9 to less than 14, meeting state guidelines.

Long Lots Elementary School

Scarice pulled no punches in his introductory remarks. “This is not a 100% data-driven decision. Nor should it be,” he said.

Noting “we are a community and nation enveloped in fear and uncertainty,” he acknowledged that any decision would impact “students, families, teachers, staff members and the entire community. We will not be able to answer every question. This is something we’ve never done before.

“There will be a perception of winners and losers,” he acknowledged. “We must remember: Our purpose is to serve students.”

Although there is a national debate over the role and conduct of education and educators, the superintendent said, “This is a moment for our profession to shine. I am fully confident we will do this very, very well.”

The Board also heard a proposal to move the first day for students back a week, from September 1 to September 8. Those extra days are needed for staff training.

The Board of Education will vote on the hybrid models, and the calendar change, at their next meeting, on Monday.

Superintendent of schools Tom Scarice, during last night’s Zoom meeting.

8 responses to “School Days: Scarice Recommends Hybrid Model

  1. Planned brilliantly by our new Superintendant Scarice and the BOE. Thank you!

    We all hope and pray this balance can keep our kids and educators safe.

  2. When will board members meet in person as they are asking children, teachers and support staff to do?

  3. A very serious and well thought consideration of making it work. But in parenthesis, should they be thinking that if ONE student becomes ill with Covid, that they will re-shut down completely? And are there plans to help parents who will refuse to send their children to school and still want on line instruction?

    • Michelle Benner

      Plans are still vague about what happens when a case is officially reported and who will get notified. Will the classmates & teachers be notified? Will the classroom quarantine? Will siblings of classmates quarantine? There are still no clear answers from Sue Levasseur despite questions from members of the BOE & community. Thankfully, all families have the option to choose full remote learning from day one. Not sure what options teachers have. I haven’t heard anything about feedback from the teacher’s union (yet).

  4. So very impressed with the hard work that all the educators, BOE, parents and administrators put into the plan. The K-5 Plan is brilliant and honors the developmental stage of our youngest learners. 👏.

  5. Jill Greenberg

    Though this addresses the curricular issues with care and thought, there is no communication here about health and safety. Some safety is implied by having smaller class size and having students eat at home. But what about MASK MANDATE,; and until a clearly defined plan for responding to reported illness is communicated, it seems fool hearty to consider having students return to in class instruction. To my way of thinking this is the beginning of a conversation and clearly the system is not yet ready to safely open.

  6. If I had school-age children, I would keep them home.

    • I agree. I have intelligent grandchildren in schools in Maryland, and Denver and California; some of their districts have made the decision to continue online, but their parents have made the decision and rightly so. to keep them home, and between caring parents ,volunteers and on line teaching, it may not be the best of learning situations, but it is more important that they are all safe. There is not yet enough information in the school plans to address certain situations and no child should be back to school until all they have been addressed.
      As a former teacher, if I were asked to report to class, I would not.