Hybrid schedule announced for high schools

The first week of hybrid learning for middle and high schoolers began this Monday, Oct. 5. In preparation for this, the BV District analyzed KDHE data and modified the typical school day.

As Blue Valley schools move out of the orange zone, Superintendent Tonya Merrigan announced that beginning Oct. 5, high school students will go into the hybrid model.
“Throughout this pandemic, we have said multiple times we want to bring students back to school in-person in some form as soon as we can safely do so, Merrigan said in an email to the community. “I am pleased to share that based on current transmission rates in our community, that time is now, as we are in the YELLOW (zone).”

Merrigan said in a later interview conducted by BVNWnews that it took 24 hours between the district evaluating the Johnson County data and making the decision to have high and middle schoolers go hybrid. 

In the case that data changes and the style of learning needs to be adapted, whether that means all in person or back to remote learning, Merrigan said in her email that families will be given a two-week notice. 

On the topic of data, Merrigan said BV references the Kansas Department of Health website. According to this website, Johnson County currently has a 4.84 percent case rate, putting us in the green zone of this specific category in the gating criteria

When students return to school, some of the procedures laid out by Pressly in early August will be applied to the hybrid model. 

Among them are temperature checks, staggered arrival and dismissal, lunch shifts with social distancing. To learn more about these procedures, view this previous news story

According to Merrigan’s email, the days students attend school will look similar to that of the hybrid plan for elementary schoolers, an AABB schedule. Students whose oldest sibling has a last name A-L will attend school for two days days (this is the A group). Students with M-Z last names will then attend school the next two days as the B group.

As for students with special needs, Assistant Superintendent of Special Education Dr. Mark Schmidt said accommodations for these individuals will be organized by their teachers, administrators and parents. Schmidt said the main goal with these students is to see individual progress. 

“These accommodations vary from student to student, but are focused on providing access to the general education curriculum and making progress on individual goals,” Schmidt said. “The student’s teacher, school administrator, related service providers, families, and normally the student will collaborate as members of the IEP team to make these decisions.”

Unlike the elementary hybrid schedule, there will not be a day where all students are online, meaning that the days students are actually at school will be different each week. As an example, John Adams would go to school Monday with an odd block and then Tuesday with an even block. Wednesday Alex Zen would have an odd block and Thursday an even block. Smith would then return on Friday for an odd block and have an even block on Monday and so on.
After learning about Blue Valley’s plan to have high school students go into the hybrid model, junior Regan Poppen said she was excited to go back to school and see her peers for the first time since March.
Poppen, although admittedly happy to be going back in person, said she does have a few concerns for the hybrid learning model and its potential impact on her school work.
“I just got used to the online schedule, and I feel teachers might assign more homework and try to jam pack tests during the [in person] school time,” Poppen said.
Additionally, Poppen said as part of the dance team, she has been able to go up to the school for practices and see the changes that have been made. She said she does not believe some of the changes will be effective.
“The hallways are marked one way and I think that may be a train wreck,” Poppen said. “When you go to places like Target people don’t abide by [the one-way arrows] so I don’t understand how they are going to get a bunch of high school students to go one way.”
As for why she thinks the district decided to make a switch to the hybrid schedule, Poppen said it was due to the online learning being ineffective and inefficient.
“I think [the district] is finding that online school isn’t working the best, with technology issues and some people not having the best WiFi,” Poppen said. “I also think they are struggling to keep kids engaged, especially middle school, my little brother has been struggling quite a bit, so I think the hybrid schedule will motivate you to go to your online zooms because you will need to know stuff for when you are in person.”
BVNWnews.com will update this story as we gather more information.