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Bennie Goldfarb

HHS prepares for hybrid learning and the return of students

January 27, 2021

Students who have chosen the hybrid option for school will begin attending in-person classes once a week beginning on Feb. 1. With the first week being sophomores only, juniors and seniors will follow suit starting Feb. 8.

HHS will be occupied by 25 percent of the student body four days a week, allowing everyone signed up for hybrid to have the same amount of in-person time. 

The hybrid model will have students continue their synchronous distance learning three days a week, with asynchronous Fridays staying the same as last semester. The biggest change will be a student’s assigned in-person day, which falls on the other synchronous day a student would normally be at home for.

The in-person days were chosen based on advisory and will fall on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Students can find their day under the “Blended Learning Group” section on their InfiniteCampus portal.

Class plans will vary between every teacher. Whether they assign asynchronous work for those at home or present the same work for both those in-person and at home, everyone must be prepared for changes.

Mr. Erik Swenson, social studies, has been teaching from HHS during distance learning and will continue throughout hybrid learning.

“The biggest key is flexibility, just monitoring and adjusting as we go through this stuff. Some things work and some won’t. Patience has been the key all year between students, teachers and parents so if we can keep that up I think that would be helpful,” Swenson said.

Students have voiced excitement, worry and confusion about their return, with about 64 percent of kids signed up for hybrid classes.

Raleigh Koritz, junior, is one of many students who will be returning to school.

“I am excited to go back to school, but I don’t know how I’ll feel about the small class sizes,” Koritz said. “I know it is for our safety, but it will feel weird compared to the normal classes of over 20 people.”

Staff and students alike will be required to wear masks and fill out a daily health questionnaire, with staff having to wear face shields along with their masks. Teachers will also be offered free testing every two weeks. 

But how safe will these precautions keep everyone?

Students will be walking throughout school going from class to class, exposing themselves to people outside of their classrooms. Staff will be in classrooms with students that have been in classes with other students who their teacher may have never seen before. Keeping track of this long chain of contact is key to the safety of HHS.

“I’m going to have different groups of kids in and out of my classroom and those kids I assume will be meeting with other kids in other classes so it’s really like you’re cross-pollinating the whole school,” Swenson said.

If someone tests positive for COVID in the HHS community, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive will be notified in a way that would protect that person’s privacy and will be told whether or not they should quarantine. 

The Minnesota Department of Health’s definition for close contact for who would be contacted in the event of COVID at HHS is anyone who has been within six feet of someone who has COVID for 15 minutes or more during a 24 hour period.

Even though COVID can still be spread in situations where people are in near proximity for less than 15 minutes, the risks are significantly higher in these situations.

Bennie Goldfarb

The schedule has also been modified to accommodate for a 20 minute lunch period following second block school, with advisory starting at 10:35 a.m. instead of the previous 10:55 a.m. On top of this, students will eat in their second block class with the option to eat school lunch or bring their own. 

Students will have five minutes – as opposed to the usual seven minutes – to go from class to class. Administration has also advised students to go directly to their next class to avoid unnecessary contact with others while standing around in the mall. To reduce congestion in the halls, one-way paths have been set up across HHS.

With hallways being reserved strictly for movement between classes rather than also being able to interact with your friends, the mall has been made into a sitting area for students to meet with their peers while maintaining social distance. This aspect of normalcy will hopefully bring comfort to many, especially those who missed the social aspect of school.

Crystal Ballard, principal, believes that hybrid is something that all students who can participate should try.

“I would give it at least two weeks and the reason I say that is because the first week is like the first week of school and you’re getting acclimated to the space and you’re meeting new people,” Ballard said. “Then perhaps the second week you’ll feel more comfortable and know more people, but keep in mind that is only two days in-person so it may take some people a longer time to get acclimated.”

Despite COVID-19 having been an issue for over a year now, uncertainty is still the norm.

“I would encourage scholars to give it a try and if it makes you feel uncomfortable and you don’t like it, you have the option of going to distance learning,” Ballard said.

 

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