Most parents opt for some in-person class time
A majority of parents chose to send their students back to school part-time this fall through the Wareham Schools’ hybrid model.
A survey was sent out to all parents asking whether they planned to send their students to school for two four-hour days each week through the hybrid program or keep them home full-time for remote learning.
Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Shaver-Hood said that the district received just over 1,650 responses, some of which cover more than one student. Families that did not fill out the form are asked to call the principal of their children’s schools.
The students participating in hybrid learning will be divided into two cohorts: one group will go to school in person on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the other group will go in person on Thursdays and Fridays.
While in school, students and staff will be required to wear a mask except for while eating, involved in an activity that would make a mask unsafe, or, for employees, while working in a room alone.
People with documented medical conditions that make wearing a mask unsafe will be exempted from this requirement.
Mask breaks are also being discussed.
If a student, teacher, or staff member is suspected to have covid-19 or tests positive for the virus, the schools will communicate that information with families.
The families of students who may have been within six feet of the person with the virus will be notified and advised that they should be tested for the virus.
No names will be released.
Students may move from an all-remote schedule to a hybrid schedule if classroom space is available and the district deems the reasoning behind the request to be valid.
Now that the district has enrollment information, Shaver-Hood said, it is getting to work on the many logistical challenges associated with reopening in a coronavirus-safe way.
Bus routes will likely look different this year, as each bus will only be able to transport about ⅓ as many students as normal.
“We thought it was difficult before,” Shaver-Hood said. “This just quadrupled the procedures and all the pieces that have to fall into place.”
Each student must sit alone on a bench seat, alternating sides so that no one is directly behind another student.
Bus route variances -- such as a student being picked up at home and dropped off at the Boys and Girls Club -- will not be allowed this year. All transportation will be free to parents.
Another logistical problem being puzzled over by district officials is the distribution of food. Whether students are in school or learning fully remotely, every kid is entitled to a free breakfast and lunch from the schools each day.
Shaver-Hood said that she hopes the schools will be able to run a food distribution program similar to the one in place this summer, during which families have a several-hour window of time to pick up both meals at once.
Currently, state and federal regulations would mandate that the schools would need to distribute breakfast only, wait three hours, and then distribute lunch only -- a system that would be inconvenient for families and staff. The district is waiting on further guidance from those officials.
Also still up in the air is the date when in-person hybrid learning will begin. The district is in discussion with the teacher’s union, called the Wareham Education Association, to decide on public health data benchmarks at which teachers would feel safe returning to schools.
Shaver-Hood said that remote learning will look different than what students experienced in the spring.
Because of state requirements for school hours, all students are expected to log on for remote learning at the time when school would start in-person, and remain engaged all day -- except, of course, for during breaks and lunch time.
The district is also working on more consistently providing information across grade levels and between classes. The online programs students and parents use will be consistent, so that parents of an elementary school student and a middle school student will not have to learn to navigate significantly different interfaces for each student.
“It was a learning process for us in the spring,” Shaver-Hood said. “We had pieces of it in place so we were able to step in and move forward. We learned from feedback from families and students, and there are some things we need to improve.”
The first day of school will be Wednesday, September 16.
Each school will be hosting virtual meetings for parents before the first day of school.
The school district has also released a guide to frequently asked questions.
For more information, and contact information for the schools, go to www.warehamps.org.