NORFOLK — Superintendent Dr. Ingrid Allardi wishes to share that out of an abundance of caution Norfolk Public Schools will begin a hybrid learning model for the 2020-21 academic year as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we begin this unprecedented school year, we have decided that the hybrid learning model is the best option for our students and faculty,” Superintendent Allardi said. “The health and safety of our community members is of the utmost importance to us, and the School Committee will re-assess this fluid situation as the school year progresses in order to meet health and safety guidelines.”
Within the hybrid learning model, the district will bring students back into school for in-person instruction in smaller, socially distanced groups on a rotating basis, combined with a robust remote learning program on the days students are not scheduled to be physically in school.
The district’s plan for the 2020-21 school year was approved by the School Committee on Wednesday, Aug. 5. Following Wednesday’s vote, the plan will now be submitted for final approval to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).
The district remained in close communication with DESE as it crafted the plan, and as guidance continued to evolve over the summer as more information has been made known about COVID-19.
Prior to the start of the school year, students in grades one through six will be divided into two groups (cohorts) district wide. Student cohort assignments will be sent out on Friday, Aug. 28.
The district will begin the school year with a 50% in-person, hybrid learning model on Monday, Sept. 14. Students in Cohort A will report to school in person on Mondays and Tuesdays while students in Cohort B will report to school in person on Thursdays and Fridays. When students are not in school for in-person learning, they will take part in remote learning.
Wednesdays will be a remote learning day for all students. During this day each week, deep cleanings of all learning spaces between student cohorts will be conducted.
Kindergarten students will also be divided into two cohorts and there will be a morning and an afternoon session for the two groups. Students in Cohort A will attend in-person morning sessions on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and students in Cohort B will attend in-person afternoon sessions.
Kindergarten students will not eat lunch at school and mid-day transportation to and from school will be provided, with students picked up and dropped off from their homes. Each day between morning and afternoon sessions all learning spaces will be cleaned and sanitized.
Parents/guardians who choose to have their child learn remotely will have that option.
Parents/guardians will receive a reopening survey on Tuesday, Aug. 11. The survey will asks parents/guardians to identify whether or not their child will be returning to in-person instruction in the fall or will be selecting a remote learning option. Additionally, parents/guardians will be asked to determine whether or not they will be accessing school transportation. Surveys must be completed and submitted to the district by Friday, Aug., 21.
The district has developed strict protocols should there be a positive case of COVID-19 in school, and students and their families are reminded to stay home when sick.
The plan will be flexible in order to adapt to any changes that may need to be made as the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic progresses. The plan will be reevaluated throughout the school year to ensure that the health and safety needs of students, staff and their families are being met.