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Three key things to know from September Appo school board meeting

Amanda Parrish
Middletown Transcript

ODESSA -- Appoquinimink Board of Education met Sept. 8 — the first day of virtual school for the 2020-21 academic year — to discuss more detailed hybrid learning plans, student population growth and changes to the student code of conduct for remote classes.

Hybrid learning plans

Although the board did not vote on specific plans, district staff presented possible options for hybrid learning, so parents have an idea of when their children would be in the buildings.

Schools will move to hybrid in mid-October, as long as it is safe to do. Families will be sent a survey in the coming weeks as to whether they will keep their children virtual or send their children in-person when the shift comes.

All grades will be split into three cohorts, with two groups going in the buildings two to three days a week and one group fully online.

All preschool through fifth grade cohorts will have three days of live instruction, whether it be online or in the buildings. The two in-person cohorts will go into the schools two days of week, with one day of live online classes and two days of pre-recorded lessons. Classes will meet from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Middle and high school students will be in-person from 9:30 a.m. to noon two days a week. Cohort “X” will be in the buildings Mondays and Tuesdays and “Y” will be Thursdays and Fridays. Afternoons would be virtual learning. All groups will be remote Wednesdays. Cohort “Z” is the fully online group.

After six weeks of hybrid learning, students would see a schedule change. The cohorts will remain the same, but students will be in the buildings from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Groups X and Y would go into the buildings the same days, but would also rotate going in on Wednesdays. Cohort Z would stay fully online. This schedule would last until the end of marking period two.

Due to smaller class sizes, students in special programs will go into the buildings four days a week from 8:30 to 2:30 p.m. They would be fully online Wednesdays.

The plans presented were not approved, so they might change before hybrid classes begin.

Student population grows

Superintendent Matt Burrows said the district has 333 more students than last year, up to 12,070 students. He said they filled more than 200 positions, between new hires needed due to growth and replacing vacant positions.

He said this is less than the district has added in previous years, normally increasing by about 435. Even though they added fewer students this year, Burrows said this is still the highest growth of any district in the state and will normally keep growing throughout the academic year.

Student Code of Conduct changes

Edmund Gurdo, supervisor of student services, said the code of conduct committee amended the student code to make it transferable to at-home learning. To help with the transition, members created three student support presentations.

All students will receive a presentation on the code of conduct, a Schoology course for sixth through 12th graders on the code of conduct and a “Zoom Norms” course.

“The goal [of Zoom Norms] is not to add more rules, but to be a teaching and support document to assist students,” Gurdo said.