Half of Sumter's students may stay home all year

Parent survey results released; hybrid learning model detailed for school year


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Sumter School District administrators confirmed Monday the district's virtual reopening plan and discussed what its hybrid learning model will look like when COVID-19 incidence rates decline.

Chief of Schools Brenda Hafner, Superintendent Penelope Martin-Knox and other administrators took part in a two-plus-hour superintendent's report to the district's board of trustees at its regularly scheduled monthly meeting.

Earlier in the day Monday, the state Department of Education approved the district's fully virtual reopening plan contingent upon the district re-evaluating an in-person option every two weeks after the district's start date, which is Aug. 28.

That will be the protocol moving forward, Hafner and Martin-Knox said, but they emphasized the move to a hybrid model will be when risks associated with the virus are less than current levels.

The hybrid will be a two-day in person, two-day remote learning model for students, with students who choose the blended model divided into two groups. For example, one group will spend Monday and Tuesday of each week in face-to-face learning in the classroom; the second group will learn live virtually from home those days with the ability to ask questions in real time.

On Thursday and Friday, the two groups will switch and alternate.

With half the students who choose the hybrid model at home on any single day, it will allow for proper social distancing in the classroom, Hafner said.

She emphasized that some students may decide to stay home on all four days of live instruction and stay in a fully virtual model even when in-person instruction is offered.

During each hybrid learning week, on Wednesday all students will learn online, and it will not be real-time learning. That day will also be set aside for teachers' professional development and student and family conferences, Hafner added.

Based on various parental surveys this summer, it appears roughly 50% of children will be choosing the hybrid/blended model when it begins and about the same percentage will stay fully virtual, according to district staff.

When risks associated with COVID-19 are low enough, the district intends to move to full regular classroom attendance.