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Preparation, flexibility and feedback were the themes running throughout the second set of Edgemont parent forums held virtually Monday, Aug. 3. The sessions reviewed the proposed hybrid schedule for reconvening instruction at the Edgemont Jr./Sr. High School and Greenville and Seely Place schools this fall.

Edgemont Jr./Sr. High School

EHS principal Kyle Hosier said the proposed hybrid schedule — combining in-person classes with distance learning — is still “not set in stone.” Hosier and Superintendent Victoria Kniewel reminded parents that feedback from families and data gathered from SurveyMonkey questionnaires “is going to help us determine what the final hybrid schedules will look like.” The proposed schedule will be submitted to the state Friday, Aug. 7, and a decision is expected by mid-August.

For junior high and high school students Hosier said educators would approach instruction and educational opportunities “that would look very similar, whether students are on campus or at home.”

“How can we possibly do that?” he asked. Teachers are participating in professional development to learn how to engage students in the classroom and at home, he explained.

The district has purchased webcams that teachers will control for livestream instruction. In one model Hosier proposed, teachers would start the lesson, detailing what students need to know and the work they’re expected to complete. Students would focus on the material and would reconvene with the class for the last 10 minutes to share what they have learned.

Parents raised issues about parking, testing and assessments, lunch periods, staggered arrival times, and whether the district is prepared to transition from a hybrid schedule to a fully remote model, should the need arise.

“Just as we have had a process to put together this hybrid schedule, we are having a similar approach to a full remote plan,” Hosier said. “Our hope is it would look very similar.”

Kniewel said the state would probably allow parents to choose a fully remote option and the district would have a final decision shortly. Considerations include whether remote education will be “counted” the same as a full day of school.

Elementary parent forum 

At the forum for elementary school parents, Director of Curriculum and Instruction Michael Curtin noted the remote learning portion of the school day should not be about giving kids two and a half hours of assignments. “That would just feel like homework. That’s horrible; that’s not what we want,” he said. On the other extreme, “kids are livestreaming the minute they walk through their front door.”

“Somewhere in between,” Curtin said, “maybe kids reconnect with their class and talk with the teacher. Maybe there’s a Google Chat window open. This is hybrid learning, and this is what our teachers are learning about. The idea is that students, whether they are in class or at home, are kind of moving through the same content throughout the day.”

Seely Place Principal Eve Feuerstein and other elementary school administrators presented several scenarios that had been reviewed and considered, and reviewed the top five questions asked by parents and by students.

Responding to questions about the feasibility of a full day of school-based instruction, Feuerstein said there was simply not enough space. In terms of expanding that space, the use of tents, outdoor canopies and trailers for extended periods of time could pose weather and safety hazards, may not be sustainable and would be subject to state regulations. 

Like the EHS parents, those of young children asked if the AM/PM schedule could be changed. Greenville School Principal Jennifer Allen replied that teachers plan their lessons based on a certain cohort of students, and that if “switching” took place at different times, maintaining a balance between the classes with continuity of instruction “would be challenging.”

Recordings of the Aug. 3 forums are on the district’s reopening webpage at edgemont.org, and parent forums on health and safety are scheduled for next week.

Further discussion of the restart plans will take place during the Edgemont Board of Education virtual meeting, which has been rescheduled from Aug. 4 to Aug. 6 at 8 p.m. Links and login information are available at Edgemont.org.

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