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Moscow, Idaho, Schools to Start Year with Hybrid Model

The Moscow School Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to begin the school year with a hybrid instructional model, which includes two days of in-school instruction a week and three days of distance learning.

by Scott Jackson, Moscow-Pullman Daily News / August 5, 2020
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(TNS) — The Moscow, Idaho, School Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to begin the school year with a hybrid instructional model, which includes two days of in-school instruction a week and three days of distance learning.

The board also voted to “soft open” on its original Sept. 3 start date, but delayed the beginning of formal instruction in the new hybrid model until Sept. 14.

“COVID-19 has basically brought us to a situation where there’s no perfect answer — what we were looking at is what is the best of the unfavorite options that we had,” Moscow Superintendent Greg Bailey told the board.

Bailey said teachers and administrators investigated other hybrid approaches, but ultimately settled on an “AABB” instructional schedule. He said the AABB model describes a system of two cohorts of students, labeled A and B, that would attend class in person on alternating days. A students will attend in-person classes Tuesday and Thursday, and B students will be in school facilities Thursday and Friday. All students would spend the remaining days of the week receiving instruction through distance strategies.

Bailey said district officials would continue to monitor the situation and be prepared to adjust strategies if the need arises.

“With the hybrid method, we would continue to monitor the levels that we are in with COVID — positive cases that would impact our community,” he said. “If we felt the numbers were lower, we would be able to, within a two-week period, move to full (in)-class instruction with all students.”

The board also voted to allow parents and students to choose to receive instruction fully online for the fall semester but warned that it would be a semester-long commitment.

In its final unanimous motion of the night, the board moved to delay the beginning of instruction under the new hybrid model from the planned start of Sept. 3 until Sept. 14.

The time between the two dates would provide an opportunity for instructors and support staff to prepare for what will undoubtedly be an unorthodox semester. Lena Whitmore Principal Kendra McMillan said it will also give students and parents time to familiarize themselves with the online learning management system Canvas, which the district will use to help manage distance learning.

She said the amount of work to be done in order for students and teachers to be prepared for any amount of online learning is tremendous.

“The snowball effect of not knowing which teachers are going to teach online and live and how does that impact the enrollment for kids, not to mention health and safety protocols,” McMillan said. “There is just so much to talk about (and) so many decisions to be made that starting any sooner than the 14th — I don’t know how we would do it.”

Bailey also noted the delay would give the district extra time to observe the effect returning college students will have on disease trends in the fall.

Administrators and board members agreed that this “soft delay” would provide the opportunity to bring small groups of students into school facilities in order to familiarize them with their instructors and classmates.

Bailey said board actions approved Tuesday night give faculty and staff a schedule to plan around, but all actions are subject to review if the board deems it necessary.

“We will be looking into this all the way up to the end of the summer,” Bailey said. “If we can move into a full school day, we would look at that but right now, if we have to plan for something, we need to plan for the hybrid method because that is most likely where we will be.”

©2020 the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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