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Appo to start school year online, hybrid learning begins in October

Amanda Parrish
Middletown Transcript

ODESSA --  Students, parents and teachers have been anxiously waiting for the Appoquinimink School District's decision on the start to the school year since Gov. John Carney said districts could move ahead with hybrid learning. Tuesday night they finally got their answer.

The board of education voted Aug. 11 to start the school year virtually for six weeks beginning Sept. 8 and shift to hybrid learning Oct. 19, meaning students will be taught partially in-person and partially online.

Appoquinimink School District gave out hundreds of iPads in the spring when in-person classes were canceled.

During the first six weeks, students will be instructed through live and pre-recorded lessons. When hybrid lessons begin, students will be assigned to cohorts and alternate between days in school and days online. Schedules will vary by grade level.

Preschoolers who are meeting in-person will go into school from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., while virtual learners will meet from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Elementary cohorts will alternate one day in school and the next day online. On Wednesdays, all students will learn from home to allow for cleaning in the buildings. In-person classes will meet from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Middle schoolers will be split into three groups. Two groups will attend in-person classes twice a week and one will be fully virtual. Classes meeting in the buildings will occur Monday through Thursday from 9:30 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. Virtual classes will be held from 12:45 to 3:30 p.m. All students will work remotely on Fridays from 12:45 to 3:30 p.m. to allow for cleaning.

Just like the middle schools, high school students will be split into cohorts and meet on the same schedule, except on Fridays. High schoolers will work fully online from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Board president Richard Forsten said they are still working on the exact schedule for when students will be in the buildings and which students will be in each cohort, but the board plans to hold public workshop meetings to discuss in more detail.

“This gives parents a feel for when their children will be in school,” he said. “Until we can get guidelines that allow for more kids, it’s about the best we can do in terms of when kids can be in the classroom.”

While the district is planning in-person classes, parents will have the chance to opt out of in-person classes and continue remote learning if they have concerns regarding COVID-19.

This decision follows many other districts that have chosen to begin the academic year online only, including Capital and Milford. 

Along with Carney’s guidance, the Department of Education released a 34-page “Returning to School” guidance. Then it was up to the districts to implement them. 

Board Vice President Michelle Wall said during the meeting she was frustrated with the governor as a board member and a parent.

“We were instructed by his office that they would be providing us with guidance and then that guidance ended up being ‘choose your own adventure,’” she said. “If that was going to be the guidance, I wish he would have told us that in May.”