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Howard school system sends out surveys to parents, staff to determine commitments for hybrid learning model

The Howard County Public School System sent forms to parents and staff members Thursday to determine commitments ahead of the rolling out of its hybrid learning model on March 1.

The district is working to figure out the specifics of its hybrid model over the next five weeks. To do that, it needs to know how many students will opt into the hybrid model versus how many teachers commit to returning to school buildings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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The only choice parents have to make is whether to keep their child in virtual learning or enroll them in the new hybrid model. Families with multiple children can choose different options for each child.

Parents will also be asked to identify if their child/children will need to ride the bus so the system can determine bus routes.

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The virtual option will be similar to what students have received the last six months except on a different schedule that will also accommodate the hybrid in-person students. Teachers will be teaching both groups concurrently.

All students will see an increase in instructional time from about 12-13 hours a week to 20-25 hours.

The hybrid students, meanwhile, will be placed on an A-day/B-day schedule, with one group learning in person on Mondays and Tuesdays and the other group on Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays will remain for nonlive instruction and homework. A separate group of students, which has been identified by the school system as the most in need, is being offered a five-day-a-week plan.

Students who select the 100% virtual option may still participate in extracurricular activities, including athletics if they return.

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Staff, meanwhile, does not have a fully virtual option. About 75% of staff will be asked back to school buildings on Feb. 22 to support the March 1 return. Students will then return to school buildings in different, tiered groups in the following six weeks.

While district leaders have said they want to speed up the process to inoculate educators before students return, an update from the county on the vaccination plan Thursday confirmed it’s likely that most of the system’s 10,000 staff won’t be fully vaccinated before March 1.

In the form sent out Thursday, staff was asked whether they would return to buildings, resign, retire, take leave or request accommodations through the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The deadline for parents and staff to fill out the commitment form is Feb. 5.

To fill out the form, parents can log in to HCPSS Connect, select “more options” from the left panel, click “in-person commitment” and answer the questions.

For more information about the hybrid model and additional options, click here. The school system also has a help page with frequently asked questions for students and staff.

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