Online? In-person? How fall 2020 is taking shape for schools

Classes could be split to attend on alternate days to maintain social distancing

While fall 2020 remains a gray area for K-12 education, ideas are emerging for how schools might blend in-person and online learning for different groups of students on alternating days and in the evenings.

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District is examining splitting classes in half and having each group of students attend on “A Days” and “B Days.”

This would allow for social distancing of students as they sit at their desks inside classrooms, CEO Eric Gordon says.

The district may also offer evening sessions to learners who need to catch up, and institute staggered start times that would require keeping buildings open up to 12 hours a day, Gordon says

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Older students would likely continue with more online sessions, but be able to come into schools for tutorials and teacher assistance.

“I think it’s going to be a menu. It’s going to be several options that meet the needs of our community,” Gordon says. “A lot will depend on social distancing.”

The district may also combine grades when school resumes in the fall. For example, 3rd-graders who move up to 4th grade may be in a class with fourth-graders who had struggled this school year, Gordon says.

“We’re thinking about whether we have different schedules for different groups of kids,” he says. “The kids who are doing really well get fewer contact days and the kids who need a lot of support get more.”

Gordon says he’s confident that educators will be able to help students recover from learning loss suffered during the coronavirus closures.

“Just because a student would’ve learned something in 8th grade in normal a year doesn’t mean they can’t learn it in 9th grade in this new world,” he says. “I’ve heard people starting to call this a lost generation but we didn’t lose this generation. New things will come out of this. We’re optimistic.”

Online learning provides ‘new set of tools’

Karen Trujillo
Karen Trujillo

Las Cruces Public Schools in New Mexico has moved its summer credit recovery program for high school students online, and administrators are now waiting to see how many students plan to enroll in its five-week, K-5 summer program, Superintendent Karen Trujillo says.

The state-funded K-5 program may be negatively impacted by the huge drop in oil prices, a major component of New Mexico’s budget, says Trujillo, who is a member of the District Administration Leadership Institute.

Trujillo has been brainstorming with superintendents in New Mexico and around the country to plan for how instruction will take place in the fall.

“We are looking at all options,” Trujillo says. “Is it going to be a hybrid model? Will we have students alternating days? What is the health order going to look like?”

For online learning this school year, Trujillo and her administrators worked with the city of Las Cruces to provide families and even some teachers with free internet service for six months.

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The district’s teachers and instructional designers also developed a common curriculum that focused on the most important standards and set learning targets for each grade.

The district now hopes to add a 1-to-1 program in the coming months as the fall could bring a blend of online and in-person instruction, says Trujillo, who has participated in some Zoom classes with Las Cruces’ teachers.

“It’s amazing that the classroom norms that existed, still exist,” Trujillo. “This might not have been a leap that most teachers would’ve taken but now they have a new set of tools for when we go back.”

DA’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on K-12.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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