While it is our goal to have all students back at school for in-person instruction in the fall, we recognize that it may be necessary for some schools and SAUs to start the year – or to be prepared for transitioning to – a hybrid or remote learning model, in the event that health and safety recommendations require smaller group sizes and a greater degree of physical distancing.
All Maine schools/SAUs should have three plans for the fall: returning to in-person instruction (with health and safety guidelines in place) for all students where there is low risk of the COVID-19 ; a “hybrid” instruction plan; and a remote instruction plan. The goal of a hybrid education model is to reduce the numbers of students and staff in one place at the same time when there is a moderate risk of transmission of COVID-19. The goal of a fully remote plan is to mitigate the impact when community health metrics indicate a high level of risk.
When a school or SAU lacks the capacity to meet the health and safety guidelines required for a “green” or “low risk” designation based on Maine DHHS / CDC public health analysis, or when a school/SAU receives a “yellow” or “moderate risk” designation based on Maine DHHS / CDC public health analysis, a hybrid model may be used to reduce group size and increase capacity for physical distancing.
Hybrid models use a combination of in-person instruction and remote instruction, with a percentage of students in the building and classrooms while others are learning remotely. It is important to develop a plan that prioritizes in-person opportunities for learners with the greatest needs and that offers support for the youngest students, who need safety, supervision, and routine.
Examples of hybrid models include:
- Providing for grades PK-5 or PK-8, utilizing larger spaces or spreading out into other buildings to reduce crowd sizes and to increase capacity for physical distancing. Older students would be provided with education continuity through remote learning.
- Engaging all students PK-12 in an alternating schedule that includes remote learning and in-person instruction. Some students are in school while others learn remotely, and then they transition back and forth between these two modalities. Schools and SAUs planning to offer rotating schedules should develop plans to support students with disabilities. They should also ensure a daily schedule that offers safe supervision for younger students if needed. This could be accomplished by developing a childcare program through the school or by partnering with childcare agencies.
- Offering students and families the option to choose remote learning for an agreed-upon period of time (for a quarter or semester, for example). This plan could reduce crowd sizes and expand capacity for physical distancing, with reduced numbers of students in the building.
- Customized hybrid models that support students and teachers who are at high risk - for example, synchronous lessons could be provided by a teacher who uses a platform such as Zoom to teach lessons while a substitute, volunteer, or other “teacher avatar” supports classroom management and logistics. Students in the classroom and students learning remotely could all participate with a teacher who is leading activities remotely.
Schools and SAUs should develop plans for transitioning between in-person and hybrid models and between hybrid and remote learning models, in order to provide continuity of education for all students.
Overall Components of a Hybrid or Remote Learning Plan – (SAU and school-level expectations):
- A plan for instruction that provides students with learning opportunities aligned to, and which result in demonstration of achievement towards, the MLR. Plans must include forward movement along learning progressions or through grade level expectations as well as reinforcement of prior learning and necessary intervention.
- A daily schedule to include age-appropriate engagement expectations for students; live daily contact between teachers and students (and/or caregiver); direct instruction (either synchronously or asynchronously); independent student work; opportunity for questions and feedback during teacher office hours.
- The daily schedule offers sufficient educational service/interaction to be reasonably expected to promote student progress toward quarterly/semester/trimester grade-level educational goals and objectives.
- A plan to equitably provide students with necessary materials and resources to support engagement in lessons.
- A plan to certify student attendance each day, and a plan to address lack of attendance/engagement. Mandated reporter requirements remain in place in remote learning environments, so school staff should also be familiar with these policies and protocols.
- A plan for identifying and addressing social/emotional, behavioral, and mental health concerns.
- A plan for coordination of schedules, assignments, and workload when students have different teachers for different subjects.
- A plan for regular/ongoing formative assessment of student learning and engagement to inform and guide instruction and pacing.
- A multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) plan for ensuring differentiation, IEP implementation, and equitable access for special populations. Services and accommodations must be adapted for a remote learning environment.
- A plan for grading and for certifying achievement. This plan should take into consideration the uneven/inequitable conditions in which students will be accessing their educational experiences – including inequitable access to: supervision, technology, materials, quiet study space, adult support, and other basic needs.
- A plan for providing student nutrition.
- A communication plan to assist students and caregivers of students in understanding what to expect, how to engage in remote learning, where to get questions answered.
- School-board approval of the hybrid or remote learning plan.