Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story focused exclusively on the hybrid model for reopening.
EMMAUS, Pa. - At a school board meeting Monday night, East Penn administrators unveiled three proposed models for conducting classes this fall. Which model becomes viable will depend on state guidelines and the status of the coronavirus pandemic at the time.
The options range from traditional classroom learning Monday through Friday on one end of the scale to exclusively online course work at the opposite end. Sitting between these two options is a hybrid model which combines some classroom attendance and some remote learning.
Even the traditional model with students attending school 5 days a week would not mean a return to everything as it was pre-COVID-19. Measures would be put in place to safeguard students and staff.
Should remote learning still be required in the fall, Superintendent Kristen Campbell and assistant superintendents Doug Povilaitis and Laura Witman said there will be a return to formalized, traditional grading, and an overall more "robust" teaching and learning environment requiring more accountability. Elementary students would see increased “face time” with teachers.
The hybrid plan would accommodate fewer students in the district’s 10 buildings on any given day and enable increased social distancing. Based upon alphabetically segmented groups by last name, students would report to their school two days a week and study at home the other three days.
Furthermore, elementary school hours under the hybrid plan would change to 9 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. to accommodate “remote learning facilitation.” The hours would also allow students to take advantage of a "grab-and-go" lunch as they head home from school, thus eliminating the need to gather in a cafeteria for lunch, administrators said.
The three options are proposals that still need to be approved by the school board and the state Department of Education later this summer.
The board also heard about the high school's plan to switch to "block scheduling" this year.
Dr. Kate Kieres, principal of Emmaus High School, explained the new schedule, which would mean changing from nine 43-minute periods every day to alternating days of 71-85 minute periods.
Block scheduling would include a "hornet period" every other day, dedicated to study, remediation, advisory, enrichment and clubs activities, Kieres said. It would also feature four 30-minute lunch periods, which may split-schedule select classes.
Extended lab periods, particularly associated with science classes, would become part of the newly extended class times, she noted.
In the works since November last year, Kieres said the new schedule was originally intended to debut in the fall of 2021, but it was moved up to this year because "it is a more efficient schedule that coordinates with the budget cuts involving teachers not being replaced."
Several other area districts, including Easton Area, Southern Lehigh and Northwestern Lehigh, already use block scheduling in their high schools.