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September 10, 2020
Adopting a hybrid approach to instruction and learning can help school districts weather the uncertain semester ahead.
As fall approaches, the topic of schools reopening elicits a wide range of reactions. Parents across the board are worried that closures will hurt their kids’ education, but opinions on when schools can safely reopen vary widely.
While superintendents in districts across the country say that proposed state budget cuts could delay or prevent reopening, prominent epidemiologists have gone as far as to state that the push to reopen schools is bound to fail. This will inevitably leave educators scrambling to implement effective distance learning solutions. On the other hand, there are some health-related benefits to reopening schools — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised that extending school closures could be harmful to students’ mental health.
With all of these competing stakeholder opinions, it’s likely that many districts will end up having to land on a compromise. A hybrid instruction model that combines limited face-to-face instruction with remote learning technologies may be the best solution.
Recently, school districts in Boston and New York released the first drafts for their reopening plans. Both make use of hybrid or “blended” learning schedules, which divide students into cohorts that alternate on-site and at-home learning days. In New York, students will alternate between two and three days of on-site learning, while the Boston plan will keep buildings closed to students on Wednesdays so that the campus can be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized during the week.
While hybrid learning has seen a recent spike in popularity due to the unique circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, there are a few evergreen benefits to consider. One of the most significant advantages of hybrid learning is an increased flexibility for educators, as the model allows instruction to be better tailored to individual students’ needs and learning goals. Teachers will be able to provide more focus and attention to individual students when on-site, while distance learning solutions give students the tools to collaborate, explore independently, and develop digital literacy skills. Students still receive the educational and social benefits of real-time engagement with instructors and peers, but they now have the ability to study and complete assignments at the pace best suited for them.
Of course, the limited in-person approach also helps with social distancing measures. Having fewer students in the building at any given time means it will be easier to maintain safety standards, and districts may even be able to prioritize in-person learning for vulnerable student groups. For example, shifting fifth graders to remote learning three days a week might mean that classes can safely resume for those in special education programs, or for students who experience food insecurity. In essence, hybrid learning gives schools the best of both worlds, while providing more opportunities to keep students and staff safe.
While a hybrid learning approach may be the safest, most realistic option for many districts, adopting a new instruction model will inevitably require an adjustment period for everyone — from teachers and students to parents and administrators. One of the best ways to ease all involved parties through this transition is to ensure that your staff is equipped with the right tools to teach both virtual and in-person.
Whatever specific approach your district takes, Vinson can help support your teachers and students as they navigate new learning and teaching environments. For schools embracing a hybrid approach, our experts can install cutting-edge camera technology into classrooms to facilitate recorded lesson plans and more with Vinson Shield. For districts that want a virtual learning platform to help their teachers deliver blended-learning experiences, Vinson Edify has more than 550 digital curricula options at the ready.
When it comes to education, our team doesn’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach. We work closely with each of our clients to develop a custom solution that will maximize the benefit to your students, teachers, and parents. By setting up your educators with the right tools for success, you can empower them to get through an unpredictable fall semester. Contact us to learn more about how our experts can help design a hybrid model that works for you.
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