Granby schools to start remotely, phase into hybrid model

  • Granby Junior/Senior High School on Thursday afternoon.

Staff Writer
Published: 8/6/2020 6:56:36 PM

GRANBY — Granby Public Schools will begin the academic year with all-remote instruction and eventually phase into a hybrid model, the School Committee decided Wednesday night.

The committee approved the “phased-in hybrid model” by a 4-1 vote as the safest option for reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to School Committee Chairman Emre Evren.

“Our top concern throughout these conversations was the safety, well-being and the health of everyone in the school district,” Evren said. The one dissenting member favored an all-remote approach.

As required by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the district created plans for all-remote, fully in-person and hybrid approaches. While DESE guidance released to schools in June favored an in-person return with social distancing, Granby school officials soon realized that a fully in-person return in the fall would not be possible, Evren said, with space limitations initially playing a large role. 

“From the get-go, the Granby School Committee basically required a 6-feet distancing approach, and based on that, the in-person model was not really feasible for us,” Evren said. The state guidelines recommended 6 feet of distancing between students if possible, but allowed a minimum of 3 feet of distancing.  

The district’s emphasis on 6 feet of distancing “reduced it naturally to the other options: hybrid or remote,” he said.

Granby is not the only local district to decide that the DESE recommendations for a return to in-person learning cannot be safely implemented. Earlier this week, the South Hadley and Chesterfield-Goshen school committees also voted to begin the year in an all-remote capacity and gradually transition into in-person learning based on local COVID-19 trends and preparedness. 

The district has not yet set a date for when it will begin to phase into a hybrid model, but is considering a review of the plans after the first 45 days of instruction. 

The shift to a hybrid model will involve different cohorts of students gradually returning to schools on a rotating basis, Evren said, with the different groups alternating between remote and in-person learning. 

These cohorts are not yet set in stone, but high-need students, such as those in special education programs, will be among those prioritized for extra accommodation, Evren said. 

The School Committee will continue to review details for the plan as the state deadline for schools to submit plans approaches early next week.

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