Schools add more in-person learning
ADDISON COUNTY — Area secondary schools are making plans to return to more in-person instruction in May, but it’s uncertain when — and if — all students will be back in the classrooms full-time.
Middlebury Union High and Middle schools will be the first to go back, with grades 7-12 returning to four days of in-person school, beginning this coming Monday, May 3.
MUHS Principal Justin Campbell told students and families in an email that the daily schedule — advisory (homeroom), start and end times of periods, lunch, etc. — will remain unchanged. Wednesdays will continue to be remote for all students and staff through the end of this school year.
COVID precautions will include masks required of all students and staff, a minimum of 3 feet of distance between students in classrooms and 6 feet in lunchrooms, and outside classes as much as possible.
Any parent/guardian who wishes to change their student from hybrid to remote (or vice versa) can petition to do that. Teachers will continue to post assignments and resources for all students on an electronic bulletin board, host remote office hours on Wednesdays, and Zoom remote students into class as is applicable and possible.
Meanwhile, at Vergennes Union High School, Principal Stephanie Taylor the school’s plans are “all dependent on what happens this week with COVID cases following the break.”
The school surveyed parents and students about whether to return the high and middle school students to full time. According to Taylor in a pre-break memo, “Results were somewhat split between the parent and student surveys with a majority of families favoring increasing in-person instruction. As we consider opportunities to increase in-person instruction, it is our top priority to keep students as safe as possible or we run the risk of actually having to close classrooms and quarantine students.”
The plans call for a two-phase return to full-time education for all students in the building. Currently there are two cohorts. The first week, April 26-30, Cohort 1 is attending Monday to Wednesday, and Cohort 2 will attend Thursday and Friday.
The second week, May 3-7, Cohort 1 will attend Monday and Tuesday, and Cohort 2 will attend Wednesday to Friday.
School officials will then determine whether to shift to phase two, based on the following criteria:
• Sufficient staffing levels to follow health/safety procedures and meet the needs of students.
• No or low COVID-19 activity in our school communities.
• Ability to maintain compliance with the guidance from state officials.
• New routines are efficient, effective, assessed and adjusted to meet the needs.
• Vermont Department of Health guidance and data supports an increase to full in-person instruction.
If those criteria are met, all students will attend full-time beginning on May 10, with one exception: Wednesday, May 12, will be a remote learning day.
In the Bristol-area school district, officials said Mount Abraham Union Middle/High School lacks the space to welcome all of its grade 7-12 students back full-time, and it recognizes that hybrid learning seems to be working well for many students, so it will focus on increasing in-person opportunities for students who are most in need of them.
Beginning May 3, selected students will attend school Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
On Wednesdays, the school will offer more targeted intervention and support, which will be available to all students. On those days, teachers will spend the mornings in their classrooms working with students in-person and their afternoons supporting fully remote learners. Breakfast, lunch and transportation will be available to students who sign up for Wednesday morning in-person sessions.
Reporters Andy Kirkaldy, Christopher Ross and John Flowers contributed to this story.
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