Here’s what hybrid learning will look like in Concord next month

  • CHS principal Mike Reardon and interim superintendent Kathleen Murphy talk outside the main office at Concord High School. There is a wellness station at the entrance to the building, where everyone who enters has their temperature taken and can help themselves to gloves, masks and hand sanitizer. EILEEN O'GRADY / Monitor Staff

Monitor staff
Published: 9/24/2020 4:45:08 PM

The Concord School District’s hybrid model, which is slated to begin in October, will bring students back into the classrooms for in-person learning, but the number of instruction hours is decreasing significantly.

The hybrid model divides students into two groups, A and B, that attend on alternating days to reduce the number of students in each class and promote distancing. Group A will attend school in person on Mondays and Thursdays, and Group B will attend in person on Tuesdays and Fridays. On days the students are not in the buildings, they will be doing homework assigned by their teachers. Wednesdays are remote for everyone, and will include live online classes at the high school level and teacher office hours, and extracurricular club meetings.

There is also an option for students to continue learning remotely.

The decision to switch to the hybrid model hinges on whether  COVID-19 data shows low risk in the Concord area in October. 

“I want to be very clear that should information and data change, we will pivot to whatever is the safest model for our students,” interim superintendent Kathleen Murphy told the school board’s instructional committee Wednesday night.

Under the hybrid model, there will be fewer total hours of instruction (including both in-person classes and live online classes) from what students are getting under the remote model because on the hybrid model’s “off days,” students will be working on their own. Under the remote model, there is live instruction four days a week in online classes that combined instruction, small group work and solo work time.

Under the hybrid model, the average Concord High School student will get approximately 15.5 hours of instruction time per week compared to 24 hours under the remote model. At Rundlett Middle School, students will receive about 12.5 hours of instruction per week, compared to about 25 under the remote model. This doesn’t include any remote one-on-one meetings students may choose to schedule with teachers on Wednesdays.

The state of New Hampshire requires public and private schools to have 990 hours of instruction per year for middle and high schools (about 28 hours per week) and 945 hours of instruction for elementary schools (about 26 hours per week). 

Murphy said Thursday that the district has heard concerns from the community about the reduction in instruction hours, but feels the situation will be balanced out by the smaller class sizes that allow for more individual attention for each student. Currently, there are typically 20 students per class, but the hybrid onsite class would be between 8 and 12 per class.

“Having fewer students in each class, teachers are going to be able to move much swifter through the curriculum,” Murphy said. “Given the smaller class size and the length of some of the classes at 90 minutes, we feel that we are going to meet the needs of the curriculum and the competencies.” 

Murphy and assistant superintendent Donna Palley presented the hybrid model to the school board’s instructional committee on Wednesday night, along with some of the building principals.

CHS principal Mike Reardon told the board that under the hybrid model, the remote learning days should not be considered a day off, even if there is no live instruction.

“Unlike what went on in the spring, this work is going to be organically and intimately connected to what went on in the class prior, as well as a preparation to what is going on in the in-person class coming up,” Reardon said.

All schools will be taking health precautions that include mandatory masks, six-foot distancing, health screenings and temperature checks at home and in schools. Each school will be controlling movement within the buildings as much as possible to maintain distance, and will be cleaning and disinfecting spaces daily.

If a student or employee tests positive for COVID-19, the school will notify the community and identify anyone who has been in “close contact” with the person, within six feet for 10 minutes or more. Anyone with symptoms is required to quarantine at home.

The Concord School District is looking to hire more teachers to teach in-person, to replace those who have requested medical accommodations to teach remotely. Human resources director Larry Prince posted a notice Sept. 18 that the district wants to hire full-time and part-time assistants, monitors and substitute teachers to support students in the school buildings.

According to district numbers, 32 classroom teachers have requested to work remotely (17 at the high school, 8 at the middle school and seven across the elementary schools) and 208 have indicated that they will teach in a hybrid setting.

Hybrid learning will begin on Oct. 5 for kindergarten, first, sixth and ninth grades, the youngest classes in each school building. The following week, on Oct. 13, the rest of the grades will join them.

Eileen O

Eileen O'Grady is a Report for America corps member covering education for the Concord Monitor since spring 2020. O’Grady is the former managing editor of Scope magazine at Northeastern University in Boston, where she reported on social justice issues, community activism, local politics and the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a native Vermonter and worked as a reporter covering local politics for the Shelburne News and the Citizen. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Globe, U.S. News & World Report, The Bay State Banner, and VTDigger. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northeastern University and a bachelor’s degree in politics and French from Mount Holyoke College, where she served as news editor for the Mount Holyoke News from 2017-2018.

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