SUBSCRIBE NOW

Appo board discusses updates to hybrid-learning plans, self-screening for students

Amanda Parrish
Middletown Transcript

ODESSA -- The Appoquinimink School District is less than one month away from opening its doors to students, and the Board of Education met Sept. 23 to discuss updates for its hybrid learning plans and COVID-19 self-screening for students.

The board’s goal is to have students begin hybrid learning Oct. 19, with students attending in-person classes about two days a week. The plans have not been approved by the school board yet, but the group will meet again Oct. 13.

While the district has had multiple meetings since Gov. John Carney gave the go-ahead on hybrid learning, Board President Richard Forsten said teachers have been great in adjusting to the challenges of providing an education during a pandemic. 

"We are getting a lot of emails from parents, and I have not heard one negative thing about a teacher, only praise,” he said during the Wednesday meeting.

Appoquinimink Board of Education met Sept. 23 to discuss updates to hybrid learning plans and self-screening guidelines.

Preschool, elementary schedules

As the plans stand now, 3-year-old preschoolers will be in-person two to three days a week and 4-year-olds will attend school five days with both ages in the buildings from 9 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Virtual learning times would be from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Elementary students, kindergarten through fifth grade, would be split into four cohorts — two hybrids, two fully remote — and classes would run 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for all groups everyday. Only three cohorts were originally planned, but with 35% of students in this age group choosing virtual-only learning, two virtual groups were needed instead of one.

Hybrid groups would attend in-person two days a week from, two days of pre-assigned work and one day online live with a teacher. The remote groups would be online live with a teacher three days a week with two days of pre-assigned coursework.

Middle and high school plans

Middle and high school students will be split into three cohorts — two hybrid groups and one online only group — with classes running from 9:30 a.m. until 3:45 p.m. 

A majority of middle and high schoolers chose the hybrid option, with 52.2% of middle schoolers and 62.2% of high schoolers opting for it. 

Hybrid groups will attend school in-person two days a week from 9:30 a.m. until noon and then will resume classes virtually live with a teacher from 1:15 p.m. until 3:45 p.m. The other two days would consist of pre-assigned coursework in the morning and live instruction online in the afternoon. 

Students who chose the all-virtual option will complete pre-assigned coursework in the mornings and be online live with a teacher in the afternoons four days a week. 

One day a week — Wednesdays — would be a planning day for teachers and pre-assigned work for hybrid and virtual students. Students would have access to all of their core teachers every day. Independent work would be due by 9:59 p.m. to prevent students from being up all night.

Virus self-screening for students

Yvonne Camac, Appoquinimink lead nurse, said students would be required to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms before going to the buildings, but there will be no list keeping track of those who do or don’t.

"It's just education, having families understand and educate them on this daily routine of what they should be looking for,” she said during the meeting. 

Symptoms the district noted to look for include: temperature at or above 100.4 degrees fahrenheit, new cough, new trouble breathing, shortness of breath, new chills, new muscle aches, sore throats, vomiting or diarrhea, new loss of smell or taste, nausea, fatigue, headache, congestion or runny nose.

Camac said the district needs to prevent any potential virus spread in case there is a COVID-19 case at one of the schools.

The reopening plan from Gov. John Carney and the Delaware Department of Education does not allow public and charter schools to open for fully in-person classes, as long as Delaware's positive COVID-19 testing rate is at or below 3%. As of last week, the rate was about 7%.

If a student tests positive for COVID-19, the Department of Health will notify the school nurses who will notify district staff and all students’ families about the case; however, the student’s name cannot be revealed due to HIPPA laws. Nursing staff will notify anyone who would need to quarantine.

When Forsten asked if all students in a classroom would need to quarantine if one tests positive, Camac said only those who were within 6 feet of the student for more than 15 minutes would need to quarantine. All classrooms will keep desks 6 feet apart and masks will be mandatory.

Testing sites

Before students return for in-person classes, the district will offer COVID-19 testing sites Oct. 6-12 at multiple schools, including Cedar Lane Campus, Fairview Campus, Middletown High School and Townsend Elementary School.

Times will be announced at a later date.