HAMPTON — Superintendent Dr. Lois Costa is pleased to share that the Hampton School District will be using a phased approach to return to fully in-person learning this spring.
On Tuesday, March 2, the Hampton School Board voted unanimously to implement the phased transition. District schools will return to in-person learning, five days a week, under the following schedule:
- Monday, March 22; Centre School students return
- Monday, April 12; Marston School students return
- Monday, May 3: Hampton Academy students return
The district continues to closely monitor public health data regarding the status of COVID-19 in the community, as well as public health guidance regarding the pandemic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.
As of Thursday, March 4, there were 23 cases of COVID-19 in Hampton. At the pandemic’s peak in the community this school year, there were approximately 120 active cases at one time in December. As long as case numbers remain low, the district will continue to roll out its phased return to fully in-person learning. Students and families have also been given the option to continue fully remote learning, however, and approximately 15% of students and families across the district have indicated through a parent and guardian survey that they will. Approximately 65% of student families responded to the survey.
Parents and guardians were nearly equally split regarding the option to return to fully in-person instruction, however. Of survey respondents, 50.4% wanted the district to pursue the fully in-person model, and 49.6% wanted the district to pursue the hybrid model.
The district also held a remote listening session to gather feedback from the community regarding a potential return to fully in-person instruction on Feb. 16.
“Our community is clearly split on this matter, but since the school year began our ultimate goal has been to return to fully in-person learning once public health data indicated it was safe to do so,” Dr. Costa said. “We’ve done our due diligence, and are confident that fully in-person instruction will be tremendously beneficial for students academically, socially and emotionally, and help restore a sense of normalcy. We’ve managed through careful planning and hard work to successfully navigate hybrid learning this year and we’re ready for the next step.”
This week, Hampton School District also began bringing students in for an additional half day of in-person learning, alternating cohorts every other Wednesday.
Students and staff will continue to maintain six feet of distance in all district buildings once in-person learning begins five days a week, wear masks and will be screened daily for symptoms of COVID-19.
Many students will be spread out over two classrooms for each class in order to facilitate social distancing, and will be overseen by their teacher and another staff member, one of whom will oversee each room. Due to staffing and space limitations, the district will end the school day at approximately 1 p.m. for elementary students who return in-person five days a week and 12:30 p.m. for middle school students. When students go home, they will have asynchronous learning activities provided by their integrated arts teachers, and during that time teachers will take their lunch and will be given time for lesson planning, collaborating with their peers and so on.
The district continues to finalize details of the transition, but as a result of the small number of students who will continue remote learning it is possible that some of those students may be assigned new teachers once the return to fully in-person instruction begins as more educators will be needed in the building and fewer will be needed to oversee remote learners.
The district also expects to utilize outdoor learning opportunities once the weather permits this spring.
District leadership additionally anticipates the phased return to fully in-person instruction this spring will provide a strong foundation for preparations and planning related to summer school programs and the return to school in the fall.
“Our community has demonstrated remarkable resilience throughout this pandemic. The fact that we’ve maintained our hybrid learning schedule and are now in a place to return to fully in-person instruction is a testament to the efforts of our staff, School Board, parents, guardians, students and the broader community,” Dr. Costa said. “I am so proud of the work our district has accomplished in the face of COVID-19. We wouldn’t be here without our staff in particular, and I’d like to recognize them and thank them for their dedication to our students this year– words cannot describe how proud I am of all they’ve done.”