Learning: Hybrid of online and in-person

Face coverings: Mandatory

The Fairfield Community School District school board met Thursday and approved a hybrid model of education, combining online and in-person instruction, which will last for at least the first six weeks of school, which begins Aug. 24.

The vote passed by the slimmest of margins, 4-3, with board members Debi Plum, Frank Broz, John McKerley and Margo Von Strohuber voting in favor, and board members Kelly Scott, Chrisi Welsh and Tim Bower voting against.

Under the plan, children in the district will be divided into two groups according to the first letter of their last name, with kids in the first half of the alphabet in Group 1 and kids in the later half in Group 2.

Group 1 will attend in-person classes Monday, Tuesday, and every other Wednesday morning, while Group 2 will attend in-person classes Thursday, Friday and every other Wednesday morning. On those days when the students are not at school, they will be doing assignments and other course work online. In cases where a single family unit has multiple last names, they will be grouped together.

The district is allowing parents to have their students do 100 percent of their courses online if they choose. School Superintendent Laurie Noll said Friday that, of the families who have registered for school thus far, 25 percent have chosen the fully online option.

Noll wants to remind parents and students of what she discussed during the Zoom town hall on July 30. Online instruction this school year will be very different from what it was at the end of last school year, when it was voluntary and no grades were taken. This year, attendance will be taken, grades will be given, and new learning will be assigned over the web.

The district is providing face shields for all students and staff to use in the buildings. It’s also requiring masks to be worn at all times including while riding the bus. However, the district will not require young children to wear masks at recess, and it will give all students “mask breaks” throughout the day.

– Andy Hallman