Worthington Schools officials ready to implement hybrid learning

GARY SEMAN JR.
gseman@thisweeknews.com
ThisWeek group

It's back to the classroom soon for students in Worthington Schools.

Students, based on whether they are in the green or blue group, are scheduled to return on a hybrid schedule Sept. 29.

The groups are divided by last names, with the blue group in school Monday, Wednesday and every other Friday and the green group in class Tuesday, Thursday and every other Friday, district spokeswoman Vicki Gnezda said.

The school board voted unanimously Sept. 1 to send students back to buildings with the hybrid schedule in place, board President Nikki Hudson said.

"This schedule is a balanced approach in that it acknowledges that we understand the benefits of in-person learning and acknowledges that the district previously told the community that we would be remote until the end of October," Hudson said. "It is cautionary in that it allows us to gauge the impact of the surrounding districts' move to hybrid.

"In addition, it provides the district with time to troubleshoot and ensure our buildings are fully prepared for the transition and provides our teachers with time to implement remote and prepare for the hybrid model."

Superintendent Trent Bowers said Sept. 29 was chosen because Sept. 28 is Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday.

Remote learning for all Worthington Schools' students began Aug. 31.

The school board adopted the hybrid system Aug. 1, and Sept. 29 was established as the opening date providing that COVID-19 coronavirus infections slowed to a level acceptable to Columbus Public Health, something that has happened in recent weeks, Bowers said.

Bowers said that by dividing the student body, only 50% of students will attend each day, allowing the schools to meet the recommended 6 feet of social distancing among students in classrooms, the cafeteria and other places students congregate.

Bowers said that on days when students are not in school, they will learn remotely using the Seesaw and Schoology educational systems. They will learn at their own pace and not have to spend a required time online, he said.

Close to 900 students, at the request of their parents, chose to attend class through the Worthington Virtual Academy. Registration was due Aug. 19.

Bowers said 15 Worthington staff members moved jobs to work with the academy's students.

"We will have many safety procedures in place in our schools as we move to hybrid." he said. "All students, staff and visitors are required to wear masks. On the bus, we will only seat one student per seat, unless the students are siblings.

"Masks are required. Hallways will be marked for one-way traffic. Lunch procedures will shift significantly. Hand sanitizer will be available in every classroom and throughout the school."

It is unclear how long the hybrid schedule will be in place, Bowers said.

"Based on what we know today in talking to (Columbus) Public Health, it seems unlikely that we would be able to move to an all-in schedule as long as 6 feet of social distancing is still recommended," he said. "If that recommendation changed over time we would reassess the situation."

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary