Vernon students to increase in-person class time

Anthony Branciforte, Journal Inquirer, Manchester, Conn.
·2 min read

Apr. 8—VERNON — Students at Rockville High School and Vernon Center Middle School who are attending in-person classes two days a week through the school system's hybrid model will transition to four days of in-person learning beginning April 26, Superintendent Joseph Macary announced to the Board of Education and parents this week.

Students who use the hybrid model launched in August now attend classes in person either on Mondays and Tuesdays, or Thursdays and Fridays, with all students attending classes online via videoconference on Wednesdays.

REMOTE LEARNING DIAL BACK

CURRENT MODEL: Two days of in-person classes for VCMS and RHS students

NEW PLAN: Four days a week starting April 26

GOAL: In-person Monday through Friday starting in September.

About 25% of the overall student body attend virtual classes five days a week, though Macary said that percentage is slightly higher for middle and high school students.

Elementary school students who attend in-person classes have been doing so Monday through Friday since last October. Per state policy, however, all schools must provide a virtual-only option to all students who want that.

Macary said administrators reviewed several options before settling on bringing VCMS and RHS students back to the classroom four days a week.

"It's not the perfect solution — I know that," Macary told the school board. "But it's one step towards normalcy for September of 2021."

Officials plan to allow middle and high school students to attend five days a week in September, Macary said. They are keeping Wednesday as an online, virtual day for all students this school year, however, to have one day a week when teachers are engaging with students in a more uniform manner.

"It's hard for teachers to teach synchronously to both in-person and virtual" students, Macary told the Board of Education.

Teachers are eager to bring students back into the classroom, though, because engagement drops when students learn remotely.

"After hour three or four, it gets to be difficult and sometimes students are not fully engaged," he said. "A lot of our students are engaged and doing a great job, but a majority are not."

Additionally, he said, even those students who are supposed to be attending in-person two days a week have become accustomed to attending virtually. Many students, he said, will decide to open the online web portal in the morning rather than make it into the school buildings on their assigned days.

"We have a lot of students doing that," he said. "That flexibility has created a major problem for us."

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