Based on current public health guidance, the District is primarily focused on restarting schools with a hybrid learning model. This will limit the number of people physically present in a building at any time to accommodate social distancing. It also supports the need for some students and adults to remain remote due to pre-existing conditions or health concerns. A hybrid learning model may be different across schools depending on the physical size of the building, number of students enrolled, grade configuration, or the number of students who need to be prioritized for in-person instruction. Input and feedback will inform instructional programming.
Hybrid Learning Model – Schedules Under Consideration
Within the hybrid learning model, we are exploring several options of what this learning model could look like, including the possibility of having a staggered/split schedule and phasing-in students and employees, as described below.
AM/PM Schedule – Students come to the school building each day, but in shifts.
Day A/ Day B Schedule – Students come to the school building on alternate days in shifts.
Week A/ Week B Schedule – Students come to the school building on alternate weeks in shifts.
In addition to split schedules, the District is also looking at phasing students and employees back into buildings.
Phase-In – Certain students come back to the school building first for in-person classes while other students continue with digital learning. For example, Pre-K through third-grade students could restart at school first, while middle school students continue digital learning until social distancing guidelines are relaxed and high school students continue digital learning indefinitely.
In grouping students together for scheduling purposes, the District is currently exploring a cohort model where the same students are together to the longest extent possible to limit the number of interactions. The District is currently planning to prioritize the following groups for in-person learning, as they experience the greatest challenges in a digital learning environment:
- Complex Need Students, such as Autistic Support, Occupational Therapy/Physical Therapy, Deaf/Hard of Hearing
- English Learners including Newcomers, Level 1, and Level 2
- Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 6
As we think about day-to-day school operation across all levels, our approach is grounded in students’ well-being and safety with a high level of care. The District may review the 2020-2021 school calendar to ensure that there is ample time to train employees and rehearse “school opening” processes aligned to the health, wellness, and safety needs of students and employees. Once the school year begins, a transitional period is being considered that places less emphasis on academics in order to address the social emotional needs of students and adults.
The District approaches the day-to-day school operations by looking at 1) going to school, 2) entering school, 3) being inside the school, and 4) leaving school.
Going To School
We understand and are planning for students to arrive at school in multiple ways, and that arrival varies depending upon District transportation policies. Once students leave their homes, it is the expectation that they arrive safely to school and ready to learn.The Office of Transportation is proposing clear and defined plans and protocols for students who receive transportation, including a three-tiered bus schedule proposal that begins the runs at 7:20 am, 8:20 am, 9:20 am.The three-tiered bus schedule will maintain the required Pennsylvania Department of Education instructional hours and will adhere to the health and safety guidelines and social distancing with approximately 33 students per vehicle. The safety plan will include assigned seating (one child per bench or two children if living in the same household) and revised loading and unloading plans. If adopted, the three-tiered bus schedule will align to the proposed teaching and learning models and will impact school start and end times.In addition, we expect there may be an increase in families taking their child to and from school. As a result, we will establish plans for an increased number of cars in drop off areas around school campuses. The Office of Transportation will provide training for its employees focused on and not limited to, safety guidelines, PPE, loading and unloading procedures.
Schools will need to prepare for pre-designated entry and exit pathways and doors for entering and exiting school buildings, focused on safety measures for students and employees as individuals enter and go through the buildings. Students and employees will have to practice social distancing and remaining 6 feet apart to the maximum extent possible. Current plans include marking floors with removable tape to designate a one-way traffic flow and identifying 6 feet distances for students waiting to enter the building.
Being Inside the School
Prior to school opening, schools will complete individual school asset maps to closely examine their facility’s infrastructure. Schools will think about safety measures for front offices, hallways, lunchrooms, monitoring of restrooms and other parts of the school to minimize the number of students and employees in these areas at any given time.Classroom floor plans will be reviewed to maximize distance between students during face-to-face instruction, including students facing the same direction rather than students facing each other and students’ desks being 6 feet apart to the maximum extent possible.School leaders will consider the use of cafeterias, gymnasiums, libraries and other larger spaces as classroom space to help minimize the number of students in the classrooms. Additional considerations include using dividers to separate classrooms within larger spaces.The District is also considering recess and the use of outdoor spaces in the planning process. This could include modified recess schedules and incorporating social distancing activities which promote physical exercise but do not allow for shared equipment.Regardless of the learning model or schedule, all students will receive breakfast and lunch. For students entering school in the morning, our current thinking is that students will be offered a grab-and-go breakfast at the door, which will then be eaten in the classroom. For students in school during lunch, students will socially distance in line and either eat in the cafeteria with social distancing markers outlined or eat in their classroom. Students engaged in digital learning can receive a box of breakfast and lunch meals to enjoy at home.Due to the health and safety guidelines and COVID-19 protocols, we understand changes to meal procedures will require additional cleaning of desks, trash pick up, signage across the school, and more employees to support the model.
Leaving the School
Schools will need to consider staggered dismissal times to promote social distancing and management of school buses, car pick-up, Out of School Time providers, athletic programs, and extra curricular programs consistent with the Philadelphia Health Department requirements.
Overall, the daily operations will be driven by the health and safety guidelines outlined by the CDC, PA Department of Education, Philadelphia Department of Public Health, and doctors and public health experts from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, with input from stakeholders.
Prioritizing Social Emotional Well-being of Students
We know that restarting at school after many months away will require time to address the social emotional needs of students. We are considering proposing additional time before restarting school to allow teachers and staff time for re-entry and provide training so they can recognize signs of trauma and identify students who need support.