'The plan will evolve:' Trumbull schools plan hybrid learning for September

Interim Supt. Ralph Iassogna explains the school reopening plan to the Board of Education Tuesday, August 11.

Interim Supt. Ralph Iassogna explains the school reopening plan to the Board of Education Tuesday, August 11.

Zoom Screen Capture

TRUMBULL — Students would get two days of live in-person teaching each week, according to a hybrid learning plan Interim Supt. Ralph Iassogna presented to the Board of Education this week.

Students will attend classes either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday, and use distance learning the other days.

That’s the plan.

Then there are the expected complications: The situation remains in flux, and health guidelines can change as things like COVID-19 infection rates rise and fall, Iassogna said.

“Things can change from day to day, and if that happens, that’s time and energy wasted,” he said. “The plan will evolve.”

Faced with providing education and protecting students and staff as the pandemic plays out, administrators have been crafting a school year with the failures and successes of last spring in mind.

Assistant Supertendent Jonathan Budd said the administration was still working out the details, but the distance learning model employed when school resumes Sept. 8 will differ in several ways from the emergency distance learning employed last spring.

“Along the lines of what colleges are doing, there will be some opportunities for students to interact with students in the classrooms and with the teachers,” he said.

Essentially, the live classroom sessions can be streamed via an application like Zoom, which allows students at home to watch the instruction in real time. In addition, the teachers will be able to see and interact with the at-home students, he said.

At the elementary school level, teachers can broadcast live lessons and also have students make use of other online or individual learning tools, Budd said.

“So we could have a reading session, and then the teacher could say, ‘OK everybody, let’s have some individual reading time, and then we’ll be back on for math at 9:30,’” Budd said. At the high school level students would be expected to check in with each teacher for their respective classes at the assigned time, he said.

The changes represent lessons learned from last year, Iassogna said.

“Last year was an emergency situation that was thrust upon us,” Iassogna said. “Many didn’t feel that (the distance learning curriculum) was rigorous or challenging enough.”

This year, each student will receive a Chromebook for distance learning if the student does not already have a suitable computer or tablet. Families without internet access will receive connectivity through a state voucher program.

When students are in the school buildings, they will be expected to adhere to state health guidelines. Students will sit in assigned seats and masks must be worn in hallways and bathrooms, but teachers will allow mask breaks in classrooms provided students can remain six feet apart.

In the classrooms, desks will face in the same direction, and K-2 tables will be replaced with individual desks. In some cases where tables remain, students will sit only on one side. Signs will establish traffic patterns and remind students of social distancing.

Lunch for most students will be delivered to and eaten in the classroom. At the high school level, small numbers of students will be allowed to eat in the cafeteria at reduced capacity and six feet apart. Self-serve salad bars and deli bars will be removed, and all condiments will be served in individual serving packets.

On days when students are distance learning, meals may be picked up at the school between 10 a.m. and noon.

Parents who opt their children out of in-person learning must provide written notice to Budd, who will provide additional instructional details. Families are expected to supervise the student’s distance learning.

Students who opt out may not attend any part of the school day or participate in any extra-curricular activities, including sports. Students may only re-enter in-person schooling at the beginning of a marking period.

All of this planning, though, is subject to change as conditions and health guidelines evolve, Iassogna said.