CONWAY — Superintendent Kevin Richard and the SAU 9 Re-Entry Committee are looking at three different scenarios “if and when” schools reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
They include Option 1: face-to-face with all students and staff returning; Option 2, a hybrid plan, with some students in the classroom while others study remotely, then flip-flopping every couple of weeks; and Option 3, remote learning for all, just as the district did for the final 12 weeks of the 2019-20 school year.
“We recognize that no plan is completely risk-free,” Richard stated in a letter to the community that went out to families last Friday.
He outlined the three options in more detail.
Under full face-to-face reopening, all students would return to the school district facilities. It would include modifications to schedules, safety and sanitation protocols and adherence to physical distancing guidelines.
Under hybrid reopening, students would engage in a combination of in-person and remote learning. A schedule will be built to reduce the student and staff population in a facility at any given time. Students would essentially have a schedule that would include two weeks of on-site instruction followed by two weeks of remote learning.
Under full remote learning, all students would continue to be served through remote learning. This would look similar to the structure used during the spring of 2020. "
It is important to note that there is a possibility of having to move to remote learning at some point during the school year as a result of the pandemic,” Richard noted.
“This plan is focused on when the students do return, but the plan is also adaptable and flexible to the point where we may start face-to-face and have to go to remote or vice-versa,” Richard said during the Conway School Board’s Zoom meeting Monday night.
The SAU 9 Re-Entry Committee, with its nearly 50 members, is scheduled to meet again via Zoom today at 3 p.m.
There are six subcommittees: Steering, transportation, facilities, personnel, scheduling and co-curricular. A nurse sits on each subcommittee.
“All of those subcommittees are making recommendations to the steering committee,” Richard said. “Those will be reviewed and revised and edited. Then those will go back to the entire committee one more time and, hopefully, we'll have a published document that will go to the SAU 9 board as well as the community" by the first week in August.
Steering committee members include pediatricians Dr. Wenda Saunders and Dr. Rich Laracy; SAU 13 Superintendent Meredith Nadeau; Conway School Board Chairman Joe Lentini; SAU 9 Board and Bartlett School Board Chairman Nancy Kelemen; safety coordinator Linda Burns; Matt Leavitt, the town’s emergency coordinator; and Richard.
At their July 8 meeting, Richard told the committee, "“I hope we can have a skeleton plan in place by July 15," and that "hopefully, we can finalize the plan at our July 29 meeting. I know it seems like a pretty ambitious, even lofty goal, but without a sense of urgency, we could take a lot of time on this.”
First day of classes is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 31. Teachers are set to return Aug. 26.
The committee’s goal is “to develop a dynamic operational plan for the return to SAU 9 school facilities for students and staff members.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused all aspects of our lives to change and adapt,” Richard wrote in Friday’s letter. “We have learned from the experiences of Spring 2020 and look to improve our educational practices regardless of the scenario as a result.
"Regardless of the model adopted, we will focus on the continued development of high-quality instruction and assessment practices. The current situation changes daily, and with any unknown, we can only make decisions based upon the information that we have currently.
"The goal of the re-entry plan is to have a dynamic operational plan for the safer return to SAU 9 schools,” he wrote.
At the July 8 meeting, Richard shared an example of what the hybrid approach might look like.
“Rich Laracy and I are both third-grade teachers,” he said. “I have 18 students in my class. For two weeks, we're on site. And then Rich has his class, but he's doing remote instruction with his class for two weeks. And then two weeks later, Rich brings his class back to school, and I take my cohort of 18 students and I do remote instruction.”
Richard said the committee is using guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.
“They're going to be similar in nature,” Richard said, “but the uniqueness of where we live, I think, is going to take place and needs to be matched up in each school because each facility is a little bit different."
Richard said all the district's principals are scheduling listening posts for parents to gather their input on school re-entry. Those meetings should take place over the next couple of weeks.