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Montgomery area schools to follow hybrid learning

Schools in the Montgomery Area School District will open on Aug. 31 on a hybrid model with students alternating days of in-person instruction with remote learning.

The move was announced at the district’s board meeting held virtually Tuesday night.

“Our hybrid model is an A-B schedule with half the student body in the building at one time,” said Daphne Bowers, district superintendent.

Bowers explained that half of the students would go Mondays and Wednesdays for in-person learning while the other half would go on Tuesdays and Thursdays. When not in the classroom students would be attending remotely. All students would be remote for the fifth day, Friday.

When students are not in the classroom, they will still have new instruction.

“That will look different in each classroom, depending on how that is delivered. I know that we have parents of elementary students who are concerned about their children needing to be on the computer at a certain time with the teacher. Because of their work schedules, they would like to be there with their child, which is admirable, so we’re going to be working around that,” she said.

Bowers said the elementary hybrid option might look different than the model at the higher grade levels.

“High school students might be able to be a little more independent, might be able to join in their class synchronous, more than elementary students, on the remote day,” Bowers explained.

“But our goal is to provide new instruction every day and, or new assignments,” she added.

A full remote option is also available in the district’s health and safety plan, which was approved by the board at the meeting.

“Our remote option is taught by our teachers, so our teachers will be handling the hybrid and the remote instruction,” Bowers said.

Prior to schools shutting down in March, the district had been training staff and having students work in a more technological environment in order to work toward offering more options, such as a hybrid model of instruction for older students, Bowers noted.

“Now we need to continue our training. It’s a lot of work for teachers to plan for remote, let alone for remote and hybrid,” she said.

“The only way we could accomplish this with our own teachers was to provide the teachers time for the planning that’s necessary as well as keeping our staff and students healthy. The only way we could follow the CDC recommendations and PDE recommendations for opening school is to have half of the students here at a time. That’s the only way we can accomplish six feet,” she said.

Face coverings will be required, Bowers stressed.

“This is our plan. We really felt we needed to get something out to our community so that we could begin creating schedules,” she said.

“We’re hoping that this might be just a short period of time that we can transition back into traditional. That is our main goal. To get back to five days a week face-to-face. I think that’s everybody’s goal,” she added, noting those decisions would be determined by the pandemic.

The district’s athletic health and safety plan was also approved at the board meeting.

“We did not postpone sports, as of right now,” Bowers said.

The district’s health and safety plan for reopening and for athletics is available on the district website.

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