During a meeting of the Colonial School Board, Superintendent Dr. Michael Christian proposed initiating a hybrid education model starting October 19th for grades kindergarten through fifth and October 26th for sixth through 12. The board will vote on this plan on Tuesday, September 22nd.
District schools closed in March of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and reopened for the 2020-21 school year in a fully virtual model.
Dr. Christian offered two reasons for the decision to make this proposal. The first is that Montgomery County is continuing to maintain low numbers when it comes to COVID-19. The second is that the district has been able to secure enough substitutes to fill the gaps created by teachers who are unable to return to the classroom due to health concerns, childcare, etc.
If the school board approves the plan, families in the district will be sent a survey to find out if they wish to move to hybrid or continue virtually.
In regards to the proposed plan for students in kindergarten through fifth grade, the students whose parents or guardians select the hybrid model would be split into two groups. One group would attend school Monday and Wednesday and the other on Tuesday and Thursday. The students would learn virtually on the days they are not in school. For parents and guardians who select to maintain fully virtual learning, those students would now be instructed by the same teacher as part of the class (meaning along with the students attending the hybrid instruction).
The same would effectively be true for grades six through 12.
There was one significant criticism of the plan during public comment. Parents of students who plan to continue virtually believe that having their kids be part of a classroom setting (a mix of kids in class and kids participating via a computer) will not be as effective as having a teacher focused solely on virtual instruction. Currently, teachers and students who are learning virtually see each other onscreen maskless, which will change once the teacher has students in the classroom. There were concerns that the virtual students will not be able to hear the teacher as he or she is walking around the classroom, etc. Dr. Christian shared that there will be technically in place to allow the teacher to be heard.
Below is a video of Dr. Christian’s reopening presentation, school board questions, and public comment. It is cued to the start of the presentation.