Public School officials are proposing a hybrid model of learning for all students in the upcoming school year.
In a report submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education detailing back-to-school plans, officials said it was impossible to hold an entirely in-person learning model that meets the state’s safety guidelines at the high school level and suggested using a hybrid model for all of the public schools.
“The capacity of Andover High School is 1,400 students, however the current enrollment is 1,800 students,” states the report authored by Sandra Trach, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, and Dr. Sara Stetson, assistant superintendent of student services,.
The report was sent to DESE on July 31.
“Due to a lack of space, Andover High School is unable to engage in an in-person learning model that would meet DESE guidelines. Therefore, AHS will need to operate in a hybrid model,” the report continues.
Another concern expressed by officials for an entirely in-person model is the effect it would have on transportation. That’s because DESE’s safety requirements would decrease bus capacity and thereby force the school district to stagger arrival and dismissal times.
“APS currently buses PK-12 students and three in-town private schools, and uses 71 and 77 passenger buses,” the report states. “Given the limited number of vehicles currently available to the district, current buses being fully maximized, and additional buses and drivers being unavailable, it will be necessary to change transportation policies to reduce ridership and stagger school arrival/dismissal times or both for in-person and hybrid learning models.”
The district’s preferred hybrid model would reduce the capacity of all schools to 50%. That means that only 50% of students would be reporting to school at a time, while the other half would be taking classes online.
The content and core curriculum would be available to students through software called LMS (or Schoology), “which allows for ‘blended learning’ (online reading and writing, math solving, videos, interactive learning experiences, and other web tools).”
"Blended Learning" is what school officials call the teaching methodology for the hybrid model, which is effectively a schedule.
At the last School Committee meeting, Stetson presented three tentative hybrid models that include five groups of students who would be attending classes online and in-person on alternating schedules.
In the hybrid models, students with special needs would be getting more in-person class time.
“Students who require intensive learning support and students with special needs will be provided additional in-person learning time within the hybrid model,” the report states. “For example, students for whom English is a second language, and/or have external barriers to learning and/or identified disabilities may need to attend school additional days each week in comparison to peers, in order to receive specialized instruction or social-emotional support.”
The School Committee is going to vote on the best fit hybrid model later this summer.