The Newfane, Barker and Royalton-Hartland school districts are embracing a "blended" model of classroom and remote instruction in the 2020-2021 school year.
In this model, students will follow an A/B schedule in which students are assigned to groups that alternate between classroom and remote learning.
In Royalton-Hartland middle and high schools, students in group A (last names begin A through J) will attend classes on Monday and Tuesday and receive instruction remotely from Wednesday through Friday. Students in group B (last names begin K through Z) will be in school on Thursday and Friday. Both groups will learn remotely on Wednesdays.
Students in Pre-K through grade 4 will attend school every day except Wednesday. School starts Sept. 8.
“There’s all kinds of national models out there, but we had to pick the best situation of a lot of bad choices,” Superintendent Hank Stopinski said.
“Every one of us have gone through something in this transition that is forcing us to think differently and behave differently. We’ve lost loved ones, and we’ve had sick people, and we’ve had close scares, and the staff members and the students have family members who are at risk. We’ve got to take all that into consideration," Stopinski said. "We’re doing staff development for our teachers and we’re putting in support networks and resources. … There’s going to be a whole lot more for families to understand what to do.”
To craft its plan, the Roy Hart district surveyed the community back in June, pulled together a 50-person focus group during the second week of July and sent out another parent survey after the focus group, getting information from about 400 households, according to Stopinski.
“There were parents, and there were community members, teachers, support staff and custodians” involved in the focus group, Stopinski said. “We had all kinds of folks who we talked to about what we were thinking about.”
At this point, Stopinski said, guidance from the state does not allow for the district's return to the full-time classroom model of instruction.
“Our plan is to start with a blended model and really take a close look at the data,” he said.
In the Newfane district, middle and high school students are on an A/B schedule, according to Superintendent Michael Baumann. Households will not be split up, meaning students who live together will attend school on the same days.
Elementary students will attend school every day. Rooms throughout the elementary building are being repurposed to accommodate a smaller number of students in each room. The school day will begin at 9:10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for elementary students.
The Newfane school year is slated to start on Sept. 8, according to the district's plan. The plan and supplemental information for parents are posted at the district's website at https://www.newfane.wnyric.org/domain/308.
In the Barker district, the A/B schedule has one group of students attending classes on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the other group attending classes on Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays are remote learning days for all students, according to Superintendent Jacob Reimer. This includes all elementary school students. School begins on Sept. 8.