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Suffolk Public Schools details plan to return to in-person learning by March

In-person learning increases concerns of teacher shortage
Posted at 10:30 AM, Feb 17, 2021

SUFFOLK, Va. - Suffolk Public Schools has released their plan to make in-person learning options available by March 15, in accordance to Governor Northam's call on all schools in the state to return.

During the city's school board meeting on Feb. 11, the board voted to approve the Educate and Innovate learning plan to begin face-to-face instruction in the hybrid setting for students.

Superintendent Dr. John Gordan sent a letter to all Suffolk families that PreK to 5th grade (elementary) students who choose to return in a hybrid setting will return on March 15 and students in 6th to 12th grade who have also chosen to return in a hybrid setting will return on March 22. Students in specialized programs will return to four days a week beginning March 15.

Earlier in the year, Suffolk Public Schools gave parents the option to decide if they want their children to return to in-person learning or remain virtual. SPS says they still want to give families the opportunity to change their preference. Parents should have received a link to the survey to change it on Tuesday, however if one did not them they are advised to contact the school directly.

Those who do not fill out the survey will default to the hybrid option. Parents that choose the hybrid form must also complete a parent acknowledgment form before they return.

Despite the pandemic, immunization requirements still stand and SPS says all 7th grade students who plan to return must have a TDAP record on file or proof for the exemption. If a child is unable to receive the TDAP vaccine before March 22, they must remain in virtual.

Hybrid learning is where students learn through a mix of hybrid and online activities. In this model, students attend school 2 days a week and complete work at home on the remaining 3 days.

Virtual learning is where students learn through live virtual instruction 4 days a week.

Friday is designated as an independent virtual learning day for all students.

If a parent chooses virtual, students (elementary and secondary) will log in daily, Monday-Thursday, for live instruction. If a parent chooses the hybrid instruction model, elementary students will receive 2 days of face-to-face instruction and 3 days of independent learning activities via Canvas.

Secondary hybrid students will receive 2 days of face-to-face instruction and 2 days of virtual instruction. Students will receive direct instruction twice a week (1 day face-to-face, 1 day virtual) per course.

First block courses will receive 4 days of direct instruction (2 days face-to-face, 2 days virtual). Friday will be an independent virtual learning day.

SPS has three Hybrid Instructional Models (Hybrid 3) for Secondary Instruction:

Hybrid 45: Teachers will instruct hybrid students during the first 45 minutes of the period and instruct virtual students live during the second half of the period.
Hybrid Flipped: Teachers will provide recorded direct instruction and activities prior to the class meeting. Live instruction will include applied, collaborative practice with hybrid and virtual students in small groups. Student groups (hybrid and virtual) may be brought together to close the class.
Hybrid Sync: Teachers will instruct virtual and hybrid students simultaneously utilizing the technologies currently available. Teachers will monitor and respond to hybrid and virtual students during the designated learning period.

Students will be divided into three cohorts for instruction: Cohort A-students in the face-to-face setting on Mondays and Wednesdays, Cohort B-students in the face-to -face setting for Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Cohort V-for those students who will remain in virtual instruction.

Students attending the College and Career Academy at Pruden (CCAP) will attend their base school one day per week and attend CCAP two days per week on an A or B odd/even schedule. Students will receive a schedule notification from CCAP prior to schools reopening.

Officials say Childcare Suffolk Public Schools will continue to partner with AlphaBEST and Parks and Recreation to provide childcare services for both before and after school programs.

SPS staff members that use AlphaBEST must update their childcare plans with AlphaBEST from February 22 to February 26, 2021.

SPS says they will allow students to use the playground equipment, as long as they wear a mask and practice social distancing. Children will be expected to wash their hands immediately after leaving recess.

"Based on the communication that I have received from our school community, I know that many of you are eager to have your children return to face-to-face instruction, while some of you still hold reservations as to what this return will look like. We cannot stress enough that our primary focus is always on the safety of staff and students. Suffolk Public Schools will continue to implement prevention and protection strategies to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Additionally, we will continue to maintain close contact with the Suffolk Health Department to receive updates as they become available. We will ensure that staff and students return back to school in an environment of excitement, love and care. Thank you for your patience, understanding, and continued support of our school division as we press forward in #BuildingTheBestSPS," Superintendent Dr. Gordan wrote in a letter addressed to the SPS community.