Hamilton public board prepares for alternating school days

News Jul 16, 2020 by Richard Leitner hamiltonnews.com

Hamilton’s public school board is developing a plan to have students attend school every other weekday in September should a return to regular classes not be possible because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Associate director Peter Sovran said the “adaptive model” reflects the wishes of 10,584 respondents to a June online parental survey that found a clear preference for having kids go to school on alternating days rather than every other week.

For the elementary grades, the plan splits students into cohorts that would go to school on two set days per week — Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday — and every other Friday.

Classes would have about 15 students to maintain physical distancing, and siblings would be placed in the same cohort so that they would attend on the same days even if they go to different schools, Sovran told trustees at a special board meeting on July 13.

High school students would be grouped into similar cohorts, but only attend school for a half day, with the balance online.

For a four-period day, this means students would take one course in class for 150 minutes on alternating days, with the three other courses online in 50-minute blocks for all five weekdays. The schedule would be rotated over 21 days.

Sovran said students whose parents opt against sending them to school will take their courses online but still be part of their class.

Other scenarios the board is preparing for in a plan to be submitted to the Ministry of Education by Aug. 4 include a full return to school with enhanced health protocols and a continuation of home online learning should schools remain closed.

Sovran said each of the scenarios will affect students, staff and families differently and the board is committed to making changes when possible.

“We’ve never done this before. Nobody’s done this before that we’re aware of, certainly in our province,” he said. “We anticipate and know that challenges will arise and that we need to build in mechanisms to address them.”

Sovran said ministry guidelines for partial or full reopening of schools encourage students to find their own way to school, preferably by foot or bike, to ease pressure on school buses, but existing eligibility rules for transportation will continue.

He said a committee of the consortium that runs buses for the public and Catholic boards is working on a lengthy list of health protocols, including cleaning, physical distancing and hand cleaning.

But the board is also planning for implementing all three scenarios within the coming school year — full reopening, alternating days and return to remote learning — should circumstances require moving from one to another, he added.

“It all needs to be sequenced out now,” Sovran said. “We’re again trying to provide a similar type of school day for our students and our families with the least amount of disruption.”

Board chair Alex Johnstone praised staff for going “above and beyond” to prepare for September, but said she will write Education Minister Stephen Lecce to outline several concerns flagged by trustees.

These include that the province isn’t providing extra funding for safety precautions like personal protective equipment and has yet to indicate how affordable child care will be provided if there isn’t a full school reopening.

Johnstone said the ministry said during a conference call with board chairs and directors earlier in the day that it will consider providing more money for PPE, for which the Toronto public school board is budgeting $22 million for the first semester.

“There was not a firm commitment,” she said. “It was a potential as of this afternoon.”

Staff will bring a final plan to trustees on July 27 and Sovran said it will include information on providing masks for students and staff given city plans for a bylaw requiring face coverings in indoor public spaces.


Hamilton public board prepares for alternating school days

‘Adaptive model’ among three scenarios for September

News Jul 16, 2020 by Richard Leitner hamiltonnews.com

Hamilton’s public school board is developing a plan to have students attend school every other weekday in September should a return to regular classes not be possible because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Associate director Peter Sovran said the “adaptive model” reflects the wishes of 10,584 respondents to a June online parental survey that found a clear preference for having kids go to school on alternating days rather than every other week.

For the elementary grades, the plan splits students into cohorts that would go to school on two set days per week — Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday — and every other Friday.

Classes would have about 15 students to maintain physical distancing, and siblings would be placed in the same cohort so that they would attend on the same days even if they go to different schools, Sovran told trustees at a special board meeting on July 13.

Related Content

High school students would be grouped into similar cohorts, but only attend school for a half day, with the balance online.

For a four-period day, this means students would take one course in class for 150 minutes on alternating days, with the three other courses online in 50-minute blocks for all five weekdays. The schedule would be rotated over 21 days.

Sovran said students whose parents opt against sending them to school will take their courses online but still be part of their class.

Other scenarios the board is preparing for in a plan to be submitted to the Ministry of Education by Aug. 4 include a full return to school with enhanced health protocols and a continuation of home online learning should schools remain closed.

Sovran said each of the scenarios will affect students, staff and families differently and the board is committed to making changes when possible.

“We’ve never done this before. Nobody’s done this before that we’re aware of, certainly in our province,” he said. “We anticipate and know that challenges will arise and that we need to build in mechanisms to address them.”

Sovran said ministry guidelines for partial or full reopening of schools encourage students to find their own way to school, preferably by foot or bike, to ease pressure on school buses, but existing eligibility rules for transportation will continue.

He said a committee of the consortium that runs buses for the public and Catholic boards is working on a lengthy list of health protocols, including cleaning, physical distancing and hand cleaning.

But the board is also planning for implementing all three scenarios within the coming school year — full reopening, alternating days and return to remote learning — should circumstances require moving from one to another, he added.

“It all needs to be sequenced out now,” Sovran said. “We’re again trying to provide a similar type of school day for our students and our families with the least amount of disruption.”

Board chair Alex Johnstone praised staff for going “above and beyond” to prepare for September, but said she will write Education Minister Stephen Lecce to outline several concerns flagged by trustees.

These include that the province isn’t providing extra funding for safety precautions like personal protective equipment and has yet to indicate how affordable child care will be provided if there isn’t a full school reopening.

Johnstone said the ministry said during a conference call with board chairs and directors earlier in the day that it will consider providing more money for PPE, for which the Toronto public school board is budgeting $22 million for the first semester.

“There was not a firm commitment,” she said. “It was a potential as of this afternoon.”

Staff will bring a final plan to trustees on July 27 and Sovran said it will include information on providing masks for students and staff given city plans for a bylaw requiring face coverings in indoor public spaces.


Hamilton public board prepares for alternating school days

‘Adaptive model’ among three scenarios for September

News Jul 16, 2020 by Richard Leitner hamiltonnews.com

Hamilton’s public school board is developing a plan to have students attend school every other weekday in September should a return to regular classes not be possible because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Associate director Peter Sovran said the “adaptive model” reflects the wishes of 10,584 respondents to a June online parental survey that found a clear preference for having kids go to school on alternating days rather than every other week.

For the elementary grades, the plan splits students into cohorts that would go to school on two set days per week — Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday — and every other Friday.

Classes would have about 15 students to maintain physical distancing, and siblings would be placed in the same cohort so that they would attend on the same days even if they go to different schools, Sovran told trustees at a special board meeting on July 13.

Related Content

High school students would be grouped into similar cohorts, but only attend school for a half day, with the balance online.

For a four-period day, this means students would take one course in class for 150 minutes on alternating days, with the three other courses online in 50-minute blocks for all five weekdays. The schedule would be rotated over 21 days.

Sovran said students whose parents opt against sending them to school will take their courses online but still be part of their class.

Other scenarios the board is preparing for in a plan to be submitted to the Ministry of Education by Aug. 4 include a full return to school with enhanced health protocols and a continuation of home online learning should schools remain closed.

Sovran said each of the scenarios will affect students, staff and families differently and the board is committed to making changes when possible.

“We’ve never done this before. Nobody’s done this before that we’re aware of, certainly in our province,” he said. “We anticipate and know that challenges will arise and that we need to build in mechanisms to address them.”

Sovran said ministry guidelines for partial or full reopening of schools encourage students to find their own way to school, preferably by foot or bike, to ease pressure on school buses, but existing eligibility rules for transportation will continue.

He said a committee of the consortium that runs buses for the public and Catholic boards is working on a lengthy list of health protocols, including cleaning, physical distancing and hand cleaning.

But the board is also planning for implementing all three scenarios within the coming school year — full reopening, alternating days and return to remote learning — should circumstances require moving from one to another, he added.

“It all needs to be sequenced out now,” Sovran said. “We’re again trying to provide a similar type of school day for our students and our families with the least amount of disruption.”

Board chair Alex Johnstone praised staff for going “above and beyond” to prepare for September, but said she will write Education Minister Stephen Lecce to outline several concerns flagged by trustees.

These include that the province isn’t providing extra funding for safety precautions like personal protective equipment and has yet to indicate how affordable child care will be provided if there isn’t a full school reopening.

Johnstone said the ministry said during a conference call with board chairs and directors earlier in the day that it will consider providing more money for PPE, for which the Toronto public school board is budgeting $22 million for the first semester.

“There was not a firm commitment,” she said. “It was a potential as of this afternoon.”

Staff will bring a final plan to trustees on July 27 and Sovran said it will include information on providing masks for students and staff given city plans for a bylaw requiring face coverings in indoor public spaces.