3/1/21 In-Person Hybrid Info Session with the PTO and Principal Harris
To watch the complete recording of the presentation and subsequent Q&A, click here.
Anyone interested in getting involved in any capacity or even just staying in the loop, share your email here.
Roomies = the students who are in-person on that day
Zoomies = the students who are virtual on that day (either full or part-time)
The hybrid is no magic wand and won’t be perfect. It is the most challenging on the dial compared with full virtual or in-person. But Bill has full confidence because of our amazing staff, teachers, parents and students. We have a long history of partnership and that combined with our resilience, we are turning the page to a new chapter for a successful end to the school year.
Bill is very touched how many people have reached out to ask how they can help our teachers, students, and everyone with this transition.
Bill isn’t here to sell you on the hybrid option, just wants us to be fully informed so we can make the best choices for our family. What we are heading back to is not what we left in 2020. There will be new challenges.
AAPS has consulted districts that look similar to ours - local and across the country - who have been in hybrid model. They have explored lots of options and this is where we have landed.
3/25-26 welcoming the first students back into the school - will give them time to acclimate as many will be seeing the inside of the school for the first time.
Then the week of April 5 the 1st and 2nd graders return, etc.
Parents should plan for three days of asynchronous lessons prior to the return to the hybrid model. This is so the teachers can set up their classrooms after not being there for a year. All of this will be mapped out as we communicate between now and start of school.
These ^^ are mitigation measures.
Cohorts are done because it decreases opportunity for exposure and makes contact tracing easier. One of the most important things we can do is have efficient contact tracing.
It’s impossible to have just a singular cohort. We have students who take the bus and those who don’t, we’ve got kids in other pods and kids not etc. At school they are talking grade level but are thinking about it on many different levels.
They explored many options, including having parents sign up for preferred days, but ultimately decided on alphabetical even though there are imperfections.
The number one question from parents has been asking can I switch for various reasons - the hard truth is we cannot commit to that. We do not have the capacity for parents to choose a cohort.
First and foremost it’s how our cohorts are to be balanced.
If everyone chose hybrid then the way our classes would be distributed there would be 55% in A-L and 45% M-Z - so while Bill cannot offer parent preference he is recognizing at the same time that we are going to have to do some balancing, just statistically speaking.
On Monday our survey window closes and they will look at aggregate and classroom level balancing and will likely have to shift some people around.
Reasons a student may be switched: maybe Bill has to ask for volunteers to switch, maybe there is a very convincing argument because of siblings or work schedules. Bill cannot guarantee any promises and cannot open it up for choice. But Bill is recording the needs and at the end of the day when we look at the cohorts and how balanced we will factor that in.
The administration is going to do their darndest to make sure they only make this schedule change once.
Bill wants to emphasize he will work with you - what is working for your family and child is one part of the conversation, and working with the teacher and grade level requirements. If the schedule is causing problems, reach out to your child’s teacher.
Students in school will be using paper, pencil, journals, etc.
Question Bill was getting a lot was will my child be zooming all day long in-person - no. But they will be using their device because there will be portions of the day when they will participate in a zoom meeting and they will also be using devices for assignments, or connect with virtual kids for small group, etc. Dreambox, Lexia, MyOn, etc
Think about this schedule in terms of time allocation rather than exact. In a regular school day not everyone eats at the same time, for example - it will be like that here.
Zoomies sample morning schedule:
This will be the schedule for “zoomies” whether you are virtual full or part-time.
By 9:10 roomies will join up and they will all be together for morning meeting. Then mini lesson followed by independent work (asynchronous, small group, etc). After ELA or math they will go into a special - zoomies are the ones getting specials. They may go to a special for 30 minutes, then recess and snack then come back for another mini lesson. The rest of the instructional block would be independent time with or without the teacher.
Roomies sample morning schedule:
At 9am the Roomies arrive at school then join the Zoomies for morning meeting. Then the teacher may work with Zoomies one day and roomies the next, there is some latitude.
There will be recess and snack, they may go out. We have the patios and outdoors so snack time may happen outside, or in the classroom. They might finish the morning with a group mini lesson before breaking out into independent work.
Zoomies sample afternoon schedule:
While the Roomies go home there are additional opportunities for the Zoomies. Special services may be small group activities, specials - only zoomies are getting specials. So they get multiple specials on the days they are home. So their day is a bit extended.
Roomies sample afternoon schedule:
Both the roomies and zoomies will have whole class experiences as well as small group and independent. With in-person there is some travel time and zoomies will have some opportunities to extend their day with specials.
All services will start virtually. This is because schedules will be getting synced but eventually we’ll be moving to in-person support services. This will allow us to build up some capacity and comfort for how we will implement special education supports and solidify protocols.
Services may be pull-in, may be pull-out, we are looking at all the spaces in our school as to where these may happen - they can no longer happen in little offices. We are looking to repurposes other rooms. We’re pulling out all the stops and mapping that out as we speak. Stay tuned with from your case managers and providers.
Sample classroom set-up:
Blue dots represent learning spot (desk or space on carpet). 6 feet apart. Teacher teaching from up front with the capacity to move around the room. Zoomies will zoom in at times. Speaker systems and microphones will amplify voices. Document cams will help Zoomies see.
Each student will have their own storage bin, containers and lockers. Some things they will bring to and from home but the basics will be kept at school. No sharing.
Lower elementary classroom example:
Second grade classroom example:
Fifth Grade Classroom Example:
Special area instruction will happen over two days rather than four. One of the next big tasks will be working on our special area schedule.
If someone isn’t comfortable with their child staying during lunch a parent can take them out.
Lunch is free for all students this year. You need to sign up in advance if you want it. Hot or cold lunch. We won’t have hot lunch line like we used to, they will all be distributed to our students on an on-demand basis.
Our students will be eating in grade level cohorts where the whole first grade goes to the cafeteria. Students would mask on way down, spread out six feet while eating, no lining up to get lunch. They’ll clean and disinfect before the next cohort then students will go to recess. Students will have a playground zone - kind of like what we were doing already to share the playground. CDC loves the outdoors because it’s a much safer place. We don’t know yet if we rotate zones every day or week.
Cafeteria set up:
The cafeteria may look like this. These desks are used up here and spread out at least six feet apart, which is more than the CDC is asking for. We are looking for utilizing the cafeteria, gymnasium, computer lab, art room etc to eat and make sure students have the distance they need to remain safe.
Eberwhite has the smallest geographic zone in the whole district so there is a very strong community component.
But unfortunately we are going to have to hold off on social gatherings at drop off and pick up.
Our school day will start at 9 and drop off window be no earlier than 8:55. Just enough to get out of your car and drop off. Then the students come in right at 9am.
Breakfast will still be available as early as 8:40 through the main door.
The vast majority of our students will not use mass entrances but rather will go right to your child’s classroom via the outdoor classroom patio entrance. Kids will go right in, put things in their locker, do a staged entry if necessary.
The yellow squares ^^ denote six feet of distance.
There will be no school age childcare before or after.
The pick-up window starts around 2pm when they are in a closing circle - at 2:10 they will be dismissed. For students getting on a bus or picked up by car we will use an app called Driveline - every student will get a code you put it in your window and the teacher will get a message to send the student out front. *Please stay in your car if you are driving.*
Walkers can spread out and not congregate.
As we get closer to the time this info will become even more clear. We will be emphasizing for all students to take everything home each day. They will not be able to come back in once they leave.
The school has never been cleaner!
There will be signs, sneeze guards, sanitation stations throughout the school:
Every student in-person should bring a water bottle and there are now water bottle fillers.
We now have touchless paper towel dispensers, touchless soap dispenser, etc.
Masks will be worn at all times besides eating. No gaiters.
Close contact is something we will paying close attention to (within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more) - all the seating, etc. Those will be very important to understand if something happens who might be considered close contact for that child or group.
We won’t have an open door policy - we are unable to have volunteers at this time, even if folks are completely vaccinated. This is something that will hopefully be revisited but as of right now we cannot have any volunteers inside the school. No visitors. We will still have staff meetings and parent/guardian meetings all virtual. Please do not show up unannounced - reach out ahead to Ms. Lyon, Ms. BOuchard and/or Bill.
We do not want to take any chances at this stage of the game so we need everyone’s help and cooperation.
There is no accountability/documentation needed for families. It is the honor system.
We need parents to be available during the school day in case students need to be sent home, or you have a back up plan if you are unavailable.
We need to build stamina for wearing masks all day so start practicing now.
Touch points cleaned multiple times a day. Deep cleaning on Wednesdays and over the weekend guided by CDC protocols. There will be a separate sick clinic vs somewhere kids can go for help with scrapes etc.
We will work together with contact tracing and communication with students and families in the cohort. If your child has not been in close contact then only a small group of students needs to quarantine vs the whole class or school.
Even in a worst case scenario we can minimize with confidence the spread and therefore minimize quarantine.
For those eligible for bussing please register so we can plan appropriately. That survey link went out today.
The choices are virtual (full-time) or hybrid (2 days in person and 2 days virtual). If you don't fill out the survey then the default is to stay in all virtual. This is the opportunity to register for hybrid. If you need the link again contact Kim Lyon.
They hope the choice we make sticks through the end of the school year but if something changes they will work with us.
Question and Answer
Q: What if only 20-40% of students return to the classroom? Would anything change
A: With regard to the cohort that’s what we want to find out; we may need to rebalance. As for the days of the week that is a question we have especially with Y5 and K, which have smaller classes - if we have only a small number that is coming back then could they in fact be in school 4 days? The short answer is right now we are focused on getting everyone back for two days. Once the surveys come back we will discuss with central office and think through what the implications would be for transportation, specials, etc. It is unknown at this time.
Q: Are students who choose to stay virtual going to continue to be part of the Zoomies or will they move to another all virtual option?
A: Students in A2 virtual will have the option to stay at A2 virtual. Students in Classroom Connect if they choose virtual will have the same teacher they have now, they will just be experiencing the class via the Zoomies schedule for all four days.
Q: Is there a plan to go back to 4-5 days this year?
A: There is not a plan for it. I’m sure that what Dr. Swift and the board will be doing is looking at the CDC recommendations and right now we are solidly in or approaching the numbers for the hybrid model. I have not seen plans for coming back to 4-5 days a week model other than Dr. Swift referenced that is what we are planning for the fall.
Q: When will you confirm what day our child will attend?
A: The survey closes next Monday and we will have the results and will look at the aggregate as a school then by grade then by class and will look to see how balanced it is. Realistically, you will probably know the week of March 15. Maybe with any luck by the end of next week we may have an idea as to which cohort. The spot where it could get slowed down is if it's not perfect we would need to reach out to individual families. It’s hard to predict.
Q: Lunch - why cant students eat in their classrooms?
A: Sometimes they will. But this schedule does not include planning time or even bio breaks with the exception of the lunch period so we need to give the teachers an opportunity to care for themselves and that is during the lunch hour when we bring in other staff to help.
Q: Are there going to be student safety guards?
A: We have not discussed that for this year. It is close to Bill’s heart - he’s going to do some research but at this point no plans for that.
Q: Will there be a bell at 9am?
A: Yes and at 2:10; the bell schedule will be reset.
Q: For some students this is their first time coming into the building - can we make sure to tell parents what classroom their student is in with a map so they know where classroom doors are?
A: Yes - in the past when we’ve done meet and greet we have a big map out front and we’ll do that same thing with a PDF and email that out with some landmarks.
Q: Will students remain with same teacher if they move to in-person or will classes be merged?
A: We are not planning to switch a child’s teacher and barring anything catastrophic from survey results Bill is hard-pressed to think of a scenario in which your child would switch teachers.
Q: Ventilation upgrades, HVAC etc
A: We’ve had quite an extensive work done in the schools replacing ducts, audits, in individual rooms to be deemed safe - rating of 3-5 times/hour is good and when we are talking about learning spaces/classrooms all of our rooms are above 5 so in the excellent range so up to 13 times an hour so there is an additional audit that is going through. It has been a top priority. Many rooms have lots of windows too. Typically on the ventilation we try to maximize efficiency and energy savings but that has all been recalibrated not for energy efficiency bur for maximizing air turnover, which is why we’ve been able to get all our classrooms to excellent air quality status.
Q: Any chance zoomies could ever join classmates outside during recess?
A: Love the idea but at this point it needs to be a no from a management perspective and keeping track of kids coming and going. Maybe there is an opportunity to take advantage of our woods - so no for now but perhaps as weather warms up it’s an idea we’d love to explore. First and foremost we have to stay safe. Our rec and ed department does activities safely so there should be room to explore down the line.
Q: What will be the practice when anyone in the building is wearing a mask improperly?
A: Just like everything behavioral, Bill suggests we try to take an educational perspective - lots of reminders. Ask adults to hold each other accountable for proper use of PPE and doing the same for our students. Students want to do the right thing. We need parents' help finding something they are comfortable in. If a child uses a gaiter or mesh mask etc we have PPE on site and will swap out and help that child get up to speed. If we are in a refusal scenario that is up to Bill to work with the child, involve the parents, etc. Plenty of extra masks on hand.
Q: Can a student switch hybrid>virtual?
A: It gets trickier if they choose virtual and then switch to hybrid, just because of the balancing of the cohorts. But the other direction for students that should something arise and they want to go back to virtual, that’s A-OK. Do what is safest for your family and then we will adjust.
Q: Why do arrival and departure procedures look different? Why wouldn’t they look the same?
A: We are trusting you to make the handoff at a location that works for you but at pick up, going the other direction is a bit more of an unknown - we don’t know who is there to receive a child, and we don’t want the herds in the hallways.
Q: The survey - is that only two questions?
A: Yup: Are you interested in in-person hybrid? And if yes, then are you willing to agree to the protocols outlined there?
A: The vaccines are incredibly effective - nearly perfect when preventing serious consequences. It is my understanding that all teachers and staff will be vaccinated. Why is there such hesitance to getting back in the class for more time and with more density for families willing to take the risk now that teachers and staff will be vaccinated?
Q: That is a question for greater powers than Bill - there has been significant progress but we still do have not full assurance. We can’t guarantee who has been vaccinated and not so that may play into it. There may be people who for health or personal reasons are choosing not to. Infection rates and guidelines from the CDC also come into play. Doesn’t see it as a reluctance to educational opportunity but rather how to balance risk to staff and students.
Q: Are teachers going to be looping instruction and repeating the in-person Mon/Tues instruction when the Thurs/Fri group is in person? If hybrid students struggle to be engaged as a Zoomie, will they miss the opportunity for that content on the days when they are not in person? I only ask because viewing the classroom as a Zoomie is much different than when the teacher is fully engaged online with all students as they currently are.
A: We don’t anticipate they will loop back to content unless the assessments from teachers say the whole class needs to re-teach but there is time for small group re-teaching opportunities, which is what happens in brick and mortar too.
Q: If you sign up for school provided lunch, can you select daily/weekly or does that commit a lunch to that child every day they're in person?
A: Bill’s guess is it will be case by case but that you’ll need to sign in advance.
Q: If a child is sent home ill or calls in sick and misses a day with possible covid symptoms are they required to have a doctor’s note or negative covid test to return to the classroom?
A: If a child is sick not asking for test results. It will be spelled out very specifically closer to the day.
Q: Will there be TAs?
A: Yes, they will still be an integral part of what we are doing. They will be in place in brick and mortar.
Q: Will "flex" fridays remain or will they transition to a regular instructional day?
A: That will be up to the teacher in terms of their curricular flow. There was concern there was opportunity for more rigor in that situation. If you are looking for more rigor for your child that is a good conversation to have with your child’s teacher. (This is specific to one particular classroom)
Q: Can 5th graders leave with younger siblings to walk home alone?
A: Yes. Communicate with the teacher.
Playgrounds will not be open after school.
Q: Will teachers who are not vaccinated be required to take additional precautions, e.g. wear n95 or double masks or other measures?
A: Overwhelming number of staff are vaccinated but can’t share who is or isn’t. Eberwhite staff is fully embracing it. We do have additional PPE on site (shields, etc.) because we do anticipate there will be certain situations when that will be needed.