In early February, after successfully completing 6 months of hybrid learning, the Blind Brook School District announced that they would make an effort to try to return to in person learning. Even though hybrid learning was a big change in the beginning, most people can agree that it was easy to adjust to and has worked very well. It was the perfect way to transition from remote learning, as it gave students the opportunity to be in the school building two days per week. As it feels like the school year is quickly coming to an end, Blind Brook wants to try to have more students in the building more often.
Before Blind Brook officially announced that they were going to return to full in person learning, they sent out a survey to families in order to hear their input. Families voiced their opinions about how comfortable they were with returning to school more than two times per week, how much social distancing would be needed, and their decision of sending their children back to school full time. After receiving the feedback from teachers and families in the district, a letter was sent out that outlined what returning to in person learning would look like.
The district decided to re-open in 5 different phases to ease into such a big change, and so they can receive feedback on it. They also want to figure out what they can improve before every student is back in the building. The first phase began on March 1st, when about 25 students per grade level began coming to school four times per week. In phase one, everyone in the district was still remote on Wednesdays. There were previous discussions about possibly coming into school on Wednesdays, but most members of the Blind Brook community agreed that it was better for Wednesdays to be remote, as it is the only day when the whole class is together on zoom. Wednesdays will continue to be remote learning days for everyone until phase five in May.
Adding 25 students per grade was very beneficial for all of the students and teachers in school. Being back in school with more kids makes life feel more normal, and students can finally see new faces in each class. There has been a lot of positive feedback from everyone who has decided to go in four times per week. 11th grader Ben Berk, who has been going in four times a week for about a month said, “It is really nice to see friends more often and it is a lot easier to understand material while being in school.” Junior Carly Mallah, a BBHS RIPL committee member, claimed, “Being in person four times a week makes it a lot easier to get extra help and speak to teachers more frequently.”
Phase two starts after Spring break on April 5th. On April 5th, an additional 25 students will be added to the list of people who go in four times per week. Since there will be more kids in the building with every step, staying six feet apart will not be possible in some scenarios. To keep everyone safe when distancing is not possible, Blind Brook plans to order plastic covers for the front of desks. Blind Brook will continue to push students to take extra precautions as more students enter the building. On May 17th, the start of phase five, the cohort model will be over, and all students will be in school five days per week.
The Return to in Person Learning Plan is very exciting as it shows that education is finally transitioning back to normal. After going through four months of remote learning last year, and about five months of hybrid learning this year, this is a big step. Although the pandemic is still a major issue in our daily lives, it is very inspiring that everyone can be back in the school building together in May.