Students at Manhattan-Ogden schools will continue in the hybrid mode of in-person and remote learning through winter break.
The 5-2 decision came Wednesday as the school board heard recommendations from administrators and heard comments from students, staff and community members who spoke of challenges bringing back students now. They also heard comments from those in favor of returning to the more traditional school setting.
One of the concerns the board shared moving forward was making sure students are doing more than just checking in on remote days. Teaching and Learning Executive Director Dr. Paula Hough says they have a solid plan in place to help over the next nine weeks.
“We are going to revive the app hours that existed previously when iPads were introduced. We are going to have technology hours where they’re able to get this continuous support,” he said.
Board Member Kristin Brighton says she wants to make it clear and for the community to see that these improvements are being done.
“The board is agreeing and taking the recommendation that the administration is going to be doing what they can so that we will have the social distancing capacity if the numbers allow us after the holidays to come back. We’ll be prepared for it,” she said.
Hough says they are working with staff on being more transparent. Moving forward, Superintendent Dr. Marvin Wade says they now have a couple more months to make this model better.
“We’ve got to use this time to improve and prepare for the next go-around, I can’t be comfortable saying we have the ability now to do the things we need to do to say it’s going to be safe. We darn well better be able to second semester,” he said.
When the time eventually comes to bring students back to school full time, in person, Assistant Superintendent Eric Reid says they’ll need cooperation from parents to be firm in which mode of instruction they prefer for their children.
“We need to be able to come to them and say this is our target. There will be no more than 25 students in those classrooms. I think we need to come up with that number and say that our target needs to be below 20 in everything,” he said.
Reid says they may have to drift up that number if they absolutely need to, but they need to let parents know there will be a line drawn to how many students can be in person. Reid spoke to the challenges of trying to please parents while also juggling how to properly follow safety protocols.
“So there’s a lot of if-thens which wreaks havoc on your schedule and to change the structure makes people want to jump ship from one place to another, but I also feel like it wasn’t fair to families at the beginning of the school year. They didn’t know exactly what they were getting into when they said remote and when they said on site,” he said.
Board members voting to continue in hybrid mode included board president Karla Hagemeister, Jurdene Coleman, Kristin Brighton, Curt Herrman and Katrina Lewison. Board members Darell Edie and Brandi Santos both voted against.