Old Rochester Regional releases full reopening plan

Aug 6, 2020

MATTAPOISETT — The Old Rochester Regional School District released a detailed, 49-page draft plan of how it will implement a hybrid learning model for the 2020-2021 school year.

Students will be broken up into two cohorts by last name. On Mondays, all students will learn remotely, and the other four days of the week will alternate between in-person and online for each cohort.

Students also have the option to learn in a full remote setting and can switch to a hybrid model at any time.

The plan was devised with survey input from parents, students, and the school community. 

“Our plan is not set in stone — it needs to be flexible and we need to understand that our learning model may change throughout the school year,” said Superintendent Michael Nelson in the introduction of the plan.

He said that students and parents should also be prepared to return to remote learning if necessary. 

One option that is not on the table for now is a full in-person return.

“It is our sincere hope that soon we will be able to safely return to the full in-person model of schooling that we once knew, but we do not believe that the time to do so is now,” Nelson said.

In a survey sent to parents, 69.2% of families wanted hybrid or in-person learning. Approximately 6.1% of families prefer full remote learning in the fall, and others were uncertain what they wanted. The district will also allow for homeschooling. 

Although the state requires students in grade 2 and up to wear masks, Old Rochester Regional will ask all students in Kindergarten and above to do so. The district will also make an effort to keep siblings on the same schedule for days in and out of school. 

If a student or teacher contracts the virus, they and their close contacts must stay home from school and get tested for the virus if possible. 

The school will have areas to separate students or staff who begin to feel sick while at school. 

If multiple students are infected at one of the schools, the district will work with the local Board of Health to figure out a way to move forward. 

If that is the case, the state suggests that a section of the school or the building should be closed for one to three days for deep cleaning, or for up to two weeks for quarantining purposes.

Old Rochester Regional will not be responsible for providing or arranging coronavirus testing. Families are expected to provide masks, and wash them daily, though the school will have some extras on hand. 

The district strongly encourages families to drop children off, carpool, or walk with their child to reduce possible exposure on buses

Bus trips will require masks and specifically assigned seats. Staff members will also keep the windows open, provide more monitoring than usual, and make a greater effort to clean the bus. 

Parents and community members who would like to visit the school should call ahead and see if their business can be conducted virtually. 

Students will be expected to attend all activities, online or in-person, unless they are sick. Parents should call the district if a student will be absent for in-person online classes. 

All students will be graded the same, no matter what learning format they are in.

Further information on preschool scheduling will be released once surveys come back from parents.

Full Remote learning: 

Elementary students will begin their day at 9 a.m. Students will be placed in separate, fully remote classes. They will also start and end their day with live meetings with teachers and fellow students.

Junior High School students will be placed on remote teams. They will begin their day with passive learning at 7:30 a.m. and live learning experiences that start at 9:30 a.m. 

High School students will be assigned a full schedule of grade-level courses to complete online. They will begin their day with a live meeting with a staff member at 8 a.m. 

If the circumstances allow, the school will hold optional outdoor, distanced back-to-school meet and greets with teachers and learning cohorts, even for remote learning. 

The school district expects that within its plans, students will be able to switch seamlessly to remote learning if needed due to illness. 

The assistant principals at each school will act as remote learning administrators. They will provide weekly updates to parents, and feedback can be submitted to them to improve the online learning experience.

Hybrid Model:

Students will be divided into two cohorts based on last name. All students will learn remotely on Mondays in the hybrid schedule. Cohort A will be in the buildings every Tuesday and Thursday. Cohort B will be in school on Wednesday and Friday. 

The number of live learning sessions will vary from week to week, and will be released each Friday. 

Scheduling will allow for minimal contact between students in the hall for class transitions, and masks breaks are scheduled into the day.

Online elementary students will have a mix of live and passive learning activities throughout the day. Check-ins from teachers via video conferencing are built into their schedule.

In-person students will follow a near-normal schedule. Recess will still be held, and lunch will be served in classrooms.

The junior high school in-person schedule will be broken into hour-long blocks with three breaks scheduled throughout the day for students.

Junior high out-of-school learning will allow students to engage in more independent work, with teacher support as needed.

At the high school, the schedule will mimic the block scheduling as students would normally have. 

Online, students are expected to attend block classes and turn in assignments.

From 2 to 3 p.m. each day, clubs will meet virtually.

The district said it will be extremely flexible in how to teach the students arts and physical education 

It will push for outdoor activities when weather permits, or spread out into small groups throughout classrooms for smaller indoor activities if needed.

Teachers in these subjects will encourage students to use their own supplies instead of sharing when possible. The district will provide materials if necessary.

The district will be contacting families with 504 plans or individual educational programs to work a system out that fits with their schedules. 

Students that are more vulnerable will have the option to attend fully in-person.

For recess, the district will provide additional playground staff, both to supervise students and disinfect equipment between groups and at the end of each day.