On July 22, the Palisades School Board voted 5-4 in favor of the current Safety Plan proposed by district administrators earlier in the month. This plan was conceived prior to the release of growing evidence from South Korea and recent studies, posted on the CDC website and featured in news articles, demonstrating that children can both be infected and spread the disease at higher rates than previously identified.
Parents participating in the virtual board meeting expressed concerns that student, teacher, staff and family safety are not adequately addressed by the plan. Full classrooms, school spaces and buses - in which distancing is insufficient or absent, ventilation may or may not be enhanced, and those exposed to positive cases will be monitored but not quarantined - were areas of primary concern. Also of concern is the lack of live instruction and interaction with peers presented by cyber learning, the only other alternative offered by the district.
The Palisades School District is presently offering a choice between two options - full time in person classroom instruction or full time cyber school. The parents signing this petition seek a third option being proposed by other school districts. Specifically, we call on the district to offer a hybrid model (blending in person and online teaching) that allows students to be instructed in smaller cohorts on rotating days.
Properly implemented, we believe the Hybrid Model would:
- Adhere to CDC social distancing protocols in classrooms and on buses by reducing the student population through smaller group instruction
- Provide important educational, social, and emotional benefits for students
- Improve consistency and transition in the likely event that the district returns to the Yellow phase
- Allow classes to remain synchronized
- Help students facing absences due to illness to stay fluent with their classroom instruction, dialog, and assignments
We expect that there will be challenges to overcome in using this model. Schedules will need to be revised and continuity of instruction established. In view of the flexibility and adaptability already shown by district employees, administrators, students and parents, we believe this is possible. In view of the past and prospective loss of learning, we believe it is vital.
By signing this petition we are stating that we would like a Hybrid Model to be added as an option for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.