Scappoose SD plans to use hybrid learning in fall
Parents in the Scappoose School District just got their first indication of what school might look like this fall.
The district intends to offer a hybrid on-site and distance curriculum this fall, with students attending in-person classes two days each week, either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday, depending on which of two cohorts they're placed in.
Alternatively, families can opt for entirely online learning. On Wednesdays, the school will undergo deep cleaning.
School staff are still developing the operational blueprints, which will then be presented to parents, students, public health officials and the Oregon Department of Education.
"There's a lot of things that we just don't know yet at this time, so we are definitely asking for grace and patience with these plans," Superintendent Tim Porter said at a school board meeting on Monday, July 13.
Splitting students into cohorts will allow for more physical distancing in classrooms.
The cohort model aims to limit the number of people each student comes in contact with. In cases where one teacher covers all subjects with the same group of students, that's fairly straightforward. But the system gets more complicated when students learn from different teachers for each subject.
"One of the things that is hard with cohorts is that as soon as you have a student or staff member in more than one cohort, then obviously, that exponentially increases the number of students that are potentially exposed," Porter explained.
At the board meeting, district staff did not expand on how the cohort model would work in cases where students don't typically spend all day with one teacher.
The district also plans to push the start date for school back a week, to Sept. 8, after Labor Day. The academic year would have otherwise started on the first Monday in September. Instead, the first week of September will be reserved for professional development to help teachers adjust to the new system.
"We're being asked, in all honesty, to do something that's never been done before, and we need the time to do it correctly," Porter said.
Each school within the district is developing an operational blueprint, which will be shared with the school board and the public before submission to the state by Aug. 15.
Grant Watts Elementary School Principal Jennifer Stearns said she was working with other schools to make sure their plans were compatible.
"It's really important that I collaborate with Warren and Otto Petersen to make sure that our plans have similar features to them," Stearns said, referencing the other two elementary schools in the district. "Since we share a number of the same families, we want to make sure that these plans are consistent for families that are in multiple buildings."
The two days on-site plus two days remote proposal was chosen over other models, such as each cohort alternating weeks on-site and at home, because it allows for deep cleaning of the schools mid-week and offers more frequent student-teacher contact, explained Whitney Hessong, the district's special programs coordinator.
Porter said that hygiene, physical distancing and mask wearing were the three tools that will be the most important in reducing the spread of COVID-19.
Parent information nights will be held on Wednesday, July 22, and Thursday, July 23, after which parents can enroll their students for the hybrid or online-only model.
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