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Mid-Prairie administrators discuss hybrid learning

Although the Mid-Prairie school district has been doing full-time in-person instruction since the beginning of the school year, administrators have been working on a hybrid learning model in case the COVID-19 infection rate rises to the level where a change becomes necessary.

Administrators gave an update on their plans to the Mid-Prairie school board Monday night.

Mid-Prairie East Elementary Principal Robin Foster said that they are considering a model with a group of students attending Mondays and Thursdays and another group attending Tuesdays and Fridays. The groups would alternate Wednesdays.

“The reason for that is early dismissal,” Foster said. “If we do Monday/Wednesday and Tuesday/Thursday with alternating Fridays, the kids will miss out on a significant amount of instruction with our current early out schedule.”

Board Vice President Jeremy Pickard asked if the board should move the early-out days to Fridays.

“We could, except preschool doesn’t meet on Wednesdays, unless we move the no-preschool day to Friday,” Foster responded.

West Elementary Principal Bill Poock said that they are still working on plans on how to allocate students to the different days.

“We started off with an A-L group and an M-Z group to see how that was,” Poock said. “Sometimes, that works out well, and sometimes it doesn’t.”

He said that they also are looking at students who have siblings in different buildings.

“If we have to move a child from one day to the other day, we know we have siblings we have to move at other buildings as well,” he said. “That’s one way to structure that so we can have a certain number of kids on certain days of the week and a certain number of kids on other days of the week.”

Administrators were asked what a student’s day would look like on days when they are not at school.

“At the middle school level, it will be similar to what it would look like in a quarantine situation right now,” Middle school Principal Marc Pennington said. “A lot of work is done through Google Classroom.”

High school Principal Jay Strickland said that a number of teachers are already doing Zoom meetings with quarantined students.

“I can see that number increasing if we go to hybrid,” Strickland said. “I think after last spring, we want to keep it as similar to the school day as possible. The teachers would transition from instruction to individual work.”

Pennington said that staff would use the early-out Wednesdays to meet with students or plan and record video instructional materials for students’ off days.

Pickard asked whether teachers would repeat lessons on alternating days, noting that some districts currently using a hybrid model are only covering about half of their planned material.

“We’ve gone back and forth on that,” Strickland said. “Originally, we thought we would do the same thing Monday that we do Tuesday.

“I see now, after some of the quarantine stuff, I think my teachers are leaning toward continuing to move.”

Strickland said a couple schools in the conference that are using hybrid models have brought up the same concern.

“They’re actually thinking about shifting gears to continue to teach new stuff and move forward,” he said.

Special Education Director Amy Shalla said that the decision to go to a hybrid model for special education students would be made on an individual basis.

“We have some kids, depending on what the IEP (Individualized Education Plan) team decides, some will follow the hybrid,” Shalla said. “We have some that will come every day because that second day or reteaching or just being on a schedule will be best for them.”

Superintendent Mark Schneider said that if the decision is made to move to a hybrid model, the district would need a few days to coordinate the change with parents.

“We would need some time to make sure that families understood,” Schneider said. “Transportation would be the main thing. It would be a transportation nightmare.”

Pickard cautioned administrators that a hybrid model would be difficult.

“If we decide to move in that direction, I think we need to be very thoughtful of it,” Pickard said. “Once you’re currently doing it, you’ll find it to be very, very, very challenging.”