Space & Time Rearrangement of Hybrid Schools


Featured Panelists:
◆ Paul Henn, Director of Learning Services, New Ulm Public Schools, MN
◆ Dr. Roland Rios, Director of Technology, Ft. Sam Houston ISD, TX
◆ Dr. Travis Taylor, Instructional Technology Specialist, Little Rock School District, AR

If you throw a dozen balls in the air and keep them from touching the ground, while at the same time spinning a dozen plates at the end of wooden sticks, all while driving and texting at night on a rain-soaked highway, you still wouldn’t approach the complexity of figuring the variables for physical space and time rearrangement needed for America’s newest experiment in education – the age of the hybrid school. In this episode of the Learning Counsel’s Back to (e)school Tactics Discussions series, education leaders from some of the nation’s top districts discuss their plans – and how they were able to fill in the missing pieces to begin the process of a return, such as it is, to school this Fall.

According to LeiLani Cauthen, CEO and Publisher at the Learning Counsel, “The new structures are going to be new experiences, so there will be some emotions coming through this. There will be people giving you pushback, and there will be people that don't know where they're supposed to go, or when they're supposed to log on. This is the toughest time on leaders I've ever seen.

Let's talk about these top concerns,” said Cauthen. “Time - giving pre-awareness to schedule change, all those schedule options. Which one are you using and where? What are you going to do with the working parents? What is your variability to make certain students accommodated because they're going to do it a little differently than everybody else? And then in terms of space, you need be six feet apart and stand on the little dot. What are you going to do with transportation? And how are people arriving through which doors, taking temperatures, checking floor tapes, disinfecting everything, social distancing, kids masks? How are they going to behave in hallways and going to the bathroom, classrooms, and around shared equipment? And then the ever-present social, emotional repercussions of all of this on everybody, which has huge implications.”

Paul Henn is the Director of Learning Services at New Ulm Public Schools in Minnesota. Henn said, “Part of the issue that we're going through in Minnesota and probably many other States right now is guidance tends to change daily to weekly. Every new set of guidance that we get lays out a new requirement that we must plan around. With the goalposts changing so frequently, it gets hard to start to really plan how we're going to best use our time because really we're planning for multiple contingencies right now, whether that be an all-in, an all-out or something in the middle. We believe it will fall somewhere in between those two.

“How do we start to best communicate that this is no longer that emergency planning phase we were in for the last 12 weeks of our school year, that we are really planning for a longer term of this possibility? Whether that will be three, six, nine, or all 12 months throughout the school year, next year. We're likely looking at a scenario where we need to adapt what we did in that emergency setting, where we were just trying to keep our heads above water. It really touches everybody from those that work in curriculum to technology, to other leadership positions, to our food services folks, to our custodial folks.”

Dr. Roland Rios, Director of Technology at Ft. Sam Houston ISD in Texas said, “I knew we weren't going to be able to open as regular. I didn't think we're going to open completely closed, like we ended the school year. I thought it would be somewhere in the middle. And I think that's the way we're heading. We are going to have kids that are in the hybrid and we're going to have the select parents that don't want to send their kids at all. And those are not going to be able to be taught in the same manner. I think you're going to have hybrid kids and complete stay at home kids. And so we need to figure out which teachers are going to do what.  I met a teacher last week, an elementary teacher here in Texas.
She already knows that she will be the online instructor for fourth grade in her campus. She will have no kids assigned to her. They are betting that they're going to have enough kids to give her a full workload, that she would simply be complete online instruction. Then the other teachers will deal with the hybrids.”

Dr. Travis Taylor, Instructional Technology Specialist at Little Rock School District in Arkansas said, “We started evaluating the programs that we were using. We set up focus groups with the parents to see how they responded. What did you know, how was the support for the students and for you using these platforms? We've really been spending a lot of time going forward on the virtual end making sure that we have a solid virtual platform that we can use, that's going to be palatable for the parents, especially when you're talking about the ESL population and the other populations that may not have the resources. We want to really be prepared to pivot to that all virtual again. How can we improve on this in case it happens again? We're still planning to go with some type of face to face involvement in the schools, but that is still changing.”

Watch the video

Even without all the guidelines in place, districts know that the start of the school year will be enacted through a hybrid model. The missing variables, X and Y, are space and time. At this point, it is an equation without all the necessary numbers in place to solve. That’s why this discussion is so interesting. See how these leading districts are making decisions with final information still to come. The clock is ticking, inching its way towards Autumn. Schools have to be prepared. Watch this discussion to find out how.


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