NEWBURYPORT — Following months of discussions, surveys and efforts by a 70-person task force, the school district released its framework for reopening, which will be presented to and voted on by the School Committee on Monday night.
In an email to families early Wednesday, Newburyport Superintendent Sean Gallagher shared the details of all three preliminary learning plans — an in-person, a remote model and a hybrid of the two. They were created in accordance with state guidelines.
As Gallagher has previously explained, the district will not pursue a full in-person learning model. The district tried to set up model classrooms using three-foot distancing between students and run through a mock schedule but with 2,300 students, officials decided the model was not feasible.
The committee will instead vote on either a fully remote model or a hybrid, which each school developed separately.
At Francis T. Bresnahan Elementary School, the hybrid model prioritizes in-person teaching for prekindergarten and kindergarten students. Under this plan, students would attend school four days a week, using a half-day model, and only have remote learning as an additional option.
For grades 1-3, students would be divided into two “cohorts,” attending school for in-person learning two days a week and participating in remote learning on the other three days. Both would learn remotely on Wednesdays and have alternate schedules the other days.
Similarly at Edward G. Molin Upper Elementary School and Rupert A. Nock Middle School, the hybrid model features students in two cohorts with in-person instruction two days a week and remote learning the other three days.
Under both its hybrid and remote learning plans, the middle school would assign each student to a “pod” of 11 to 13 other students and an adviser. These pods would function as advisory groups for students to meet, both remotely and in-person, every day at 7:45 a.m. The adviser would take attendance, keep track of student schedules, and check in on social and emotional needs.
If the committee votes in favor of a hybrid learning model, all families with children in prekindergarten through eighth grade may opt for the Remote Learning Academy, which would function as a separate school in the district. This allows students to attend school remotely if they are uncomfortable with in-person instruction.
At Newburyport High School, officials created a plan for predominantly remote instruction but with an in-person advisory for small groups of students to meet once every other week.
As stated in the plan, “NHS initially explored cohorting students in classrooms and having teachers cycle through, but after receiving feedback from students and parents, the impact to a student’s high school schedule was too great for the school to consider this option.”
The school said it hopes to develop a hybrid model eventually and phase in-person instruction into the plan. The school plans to reevaluate its learning model the week of Oct. 12. As it stands now, the remote plan has teachers conducting live instruction from their classrooms. Students would tune in remotely for 80-minute class blocks with 10-minute breaks in between. Attendance will be taken. If a high school student opts out of the in-person advisory, they would be assigned a teacher to connect with them remotely for advice on things such as college and career planning.
For special education students throughout the district, in-person instruction would be prioritized wherever possible. Those plans will vary depending on each student’s needs.
All learning models are subject to change throughout the year as the COVID-19 situation develops.
To see the full plan or to submit questions about the plan, go to www.newburyport.k12.ma.us/District--Parent-Info/NPS-Reopening-Plan/index.html.