Lawrence school board to consider plan to move to hybrid learning in October

photo by: Mackenzie Clark/Journal-World File Photo

The Lawrence Board of Education meeting room at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive, is pictured in this file photo from Feb. 25, 2019.

Lawrence schools could soon be moving to a hybrid learning model after starting the school year with six weeks of fully remote classes.

The Lawrence school board on Monday will consider a plan to move to a hybrid learning model on Oct. 19, when the district’s initial plan of fully remote learning is scheduled to conclude. However, if the board does not choose to move to a hybrid learning model, it may consider extending the remote learning period.

Prior to considering a plan, the board will hear an update from its school reopening task force, which has been providing regular updates on topics related to the district’s operations as the coronavirus pandemic continues into the fall semester.

According to a memo to the board members, if they opt to move to a hybrid learning model, the district administration will be charged with deciding how that model will look. Previously, the task force proposed an AB/AB hybrid learning model, which would place students into two groups that attend in-person classes every other day, interchangeably. When students are not learning in person, they would attend through remote learning. Additionally, on Wednesdays, the plan calls for all students to learn remotely.

More information on the task force’s proposal for hybrid learning model can be found on the district’s website, usd497.org/TogetherAgain.

The consideration to move to hybrid learning comes as the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department’s guidance to schools has remained in its yellow tier for a fifth straight week. The yellow tier recommends schools conduct school through hybrid learning options and prohibit competition among “high risk” sports, such as football and soccer.

However, key indicators for the guidance have been heading in a good direction for schools in recent weeks. As of Thursday, the health department reported that the county’s 14-day average positivity rate is at 8% while the 14-day moving average for new cases per day is about 16, the Journal-World has reported. That’s a slight improvement from the week prior, when the 14-day average positivity rate was at 8.5% and the 14-day moving average for new cases was 18.

If the positivity rate drops below 5% and the average number of new cases continues to fall, the health department’s guidance to schools could move to its green tier, which would allow for fully in-person classes.

In July, the board elected to begin the school year with at least six weeks of fully remote learning. Lawrence schools have been an outlier in that area, as all of the other Douglas County school districts either began fully in person or with a hybrid learning model.

The school board will meet at 5 p.m. Monday for its regular meeting through an online conference call. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school district encourages the public to watch the meeting on Midco channel 26 or online at youtube.com/USD497.

Those who want to speak during public comments at the meeting can still do so. The school district asks for comments to be sent by email to PatronCommentary@usd497.org by 6 p.m. the day of the meeting. Comments can also be emailed to board members ahead of the meeting. Their contact information is available on the district’s website at usd497.org/Board.


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