MT. PLEASANT — On Monday, Mt. Pleasant Middle School returned to regular face-to-face instruction after seven days of hybrid learning — 50 percent remote and 50 percent face-to-face instruction, with half the student body physically in class on a given day.
Middle School Principal Nathan Lange said that the model went well, aiding them in a staffing shortage after a number of staff tested positive or were quarantined.
This allowed the school to cover classrooms with quality instruction by decreasing the number of students that needed to be supervised and allowing the school to allocate its staffing resources effectively.
“All in all, hybrid was a very good model for us. It was smooth. It allowed us some opportunities to be able to stagger our days and be able to provide coverage for our classrooms,” Lange said.
“We were able to gain some staff back in that time, and we were able to find coverage for the students and to be able to teach them,” he added.
The switch allowed the district to test the waters, seeing how a hybrid model works for instruction and allowing it to adjust policies to improve the model for the future.
“We had a really good week and a half of half capacity. Being able to test the waters a little bit to see what it looks like on the day students are there [in school] and what we needed them to do when they weren’t,” Lange said.
The model allowed the school to address the staffing shortage and to provide quality instruction to students, but it came with some downfalls.
“You miss student instructional days, so you have to be able to smush the most important things into one day over being able to teach it over two days,” Lange said.
The model limited social interactions among students, splitting the student body in half, where most kids socialize at school.
“I think that a lot of students were disappointed because they had that one friend, and it just so happened that their name didn’t fall in the right spot, and they wouldn’t see them,” Lange said.
The temporary switch to a hybrid model came as the district was discussing the metrics it considers when making decisions about when to change instructional models, allowing the district more flexibility in their decisions. At a special session on Monday, district superintendent John Henriksen explained to the school board that the district is looking to engage a targeted approach to instructional model changes, like at the middle school, allowing for as little disruption to learning as possible. This allows the district to address specific needs throughout the district.
“If we need to do that because of where we are in the community and virus infection rates, we certainly want to do that for the sake of our community and the health of our community,” Henriksen said.
“Long-term for kids, [hybrid is] tough. It’s tough on their education to do that so we want to stay face-to-face as often as we can,” he added.