Highland to stay hybrid through at least Oct. 2

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A survey of 51 Highland Community School teachers overwhelmingly showed that the hybrid learning model that has been in place since the start of school in late August has been effective.

Thirty-six, including 19 of 22 high school teachers in the survey, suggested a continuation of the hybrid model in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

They got their wish last week when the Highland Community School Board of Education decided in a special meeting on Sept. 8 to extend the hybrid model until at least Friday, Oct. 2. The move was recommended by Ken Crawford, school superintendent.

“We think hybrid is working,” Crawford said.

The school board will meet again on Sept. 28 to decide whether the hybrid model will be extended until the end of the first quarter on Oct. 23 or return to a full in-school model on Oct. 5.

Highland opened its schools at all levels under a hybrid learning plan on Aug. 24. Students are divided into groups and attend school in person on alternating days, reducing the number of students in a particular school on any day. While in school, physical distancing is combined with the use of masks and plastic face shields in a preventative measure against COVID-19.

When not in school, students work on their lessons remotely from home.

Crawford told the board that the use of masks and shields has been effective.

“Our kids are wearing the masks and the shields very well,” he said.

Of the 51 teachers surveyed, 38 responded that their students were “progressing through the content effectively.”

Most (25 of 28 middle and high school teachers) preferred for the hybrid model to be extended. However, at the elementary school level, 12 of the 23 surveyed teachers wanted to return to full in-school instruction.

“It makes us feel really good that we’re doing the right thing,” Jayme Kallaus, a middle school teacher representing the Highland Education Association, told the board. “We want everybody to be as safe as possible.”

The number of positive cases among Highland students and staff, or those in quarantine, has not been released by the district. The News has requested those numbers.

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