PMS will switch to full-time in person April 19; PMHS to get expanded hybrid April 26 due to space issues

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Survey responses in Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Champ’s presentation.

Pelham Middle School will return to full-time, in-person learning April 19, while Pelham Memorial High School will instead move to a “more robust” hybrid model April 26 because it has more students and staff to accommodate, Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Champ told the board of education Wednesday.

As previously announced, all four elementary schools will teach in-person full-time starting April 12, not including students who opted for the fully virtual learning model. Both the elementary and PMS plans will consistently manage to accommodate the full number of students wishing to return to the building, with the proper space and resources available, Champ said.

From the district-wide survey to parents, it was found that 10% to 11% of students in both the middle school and high school would be continuing with fully remote learning. At the high school, “with 10% of students remaining on full virtual and smaller classrooms, we are not confident we can accommodate all students that want to return in FTIP and maintain 3-feet distance,” read Champ’s presentation. 

Certain students will be brought back to PMHS full-time starting April 12 and will be in the building every day, Monday-Friday. This group is represented by Cohort Z on the tentative schedule in Champ’s presentation on expanding the hybrid schedule at PMHS.

The two cohorts at the high school level will be split into two sub-groups each for assignment to additional days in school. Theses sub-groups will be rotated into the building according to a schedule, to allow for all students to receive one to two extra days of educational time at the school, depending on the week.

Ultimately, students will be in person for 3-4 days a week, and the half day Wednesdays will still be active. Students will intermingle with all of their classmates by the end of the year, regardless of original cohort with the new schedule and plan in place, the presentation said.

  • Cohort A will continue to attend in person on Monday, Tuesday and alternating Wednesdays
  • Cohort B will continue on Thursday, Friday and alternating Wednesdays
  • Half of Cohort B will have their extra in person day on Mondays.
  • The other half of Cohort B will attend on Tuesdays.
  • Half of Cohort A will have their extra day in person on Thursdays.
  • The other half of Cohort A on Fridays.

Clubs will remain virtual, with the exception of certain clubs meeting “in person by advisor discretion with principal approval,” the presentation said. Band and chorus will move outdoors.

The shared cafeteria space cannot seat all students, so two large tents have been set up on Ingalls Field for use by the middle and high schools. The lunch tables in the cafeterias were originally replaced with single seat desks, which then needed to be returned to classrooms to handle the increase in students. The district has purchased card tables for the cafeterias that will be repurposed and used for testing in the future.

The days of studying from anywhere are over, at least for those who pick hybrid. Such students may not access Google Meet classes on days they should be in the building. If a child is supposed to be in the building but chooses to stay home out of convenience, it will be counted as an absence, and the student will not be able to access virtual classes, said the presentation. “Virtual learning cannot be accessed for situations such as vacation, travel, staying home on test days, etc.” The exception for this rule is for students who are mandated to quarantine or awaiting test results.

Students will be spaced three-feet apart in classrooms, and masks and portable barriers will continue to be used. Windows will remain open, and box fans and air purifiers will be used in classrooms. Almost 60% of the staff has received at least one vaccine dose.

Champ encouraged students and families to continue to make safe choices for the schools to remain open. Students who are vaccinated need to send in a vaccination card in order to be taken off the quarantine list. Surveillance testing will continue to be administered by the district. Assistant superintendent for pupil personnel services Julia Chung encouraged parents to sign students up to get tested, especially at the elementary level.

Dr. Steven Garcia, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and personnel, said the third through eighth grade English language arts and math exams must be administered by the state and as they are required by the federal government. The district is working to figure out how to schedule the exams without disrupting instructional time, looking towards possibly administering the tests on Wednesday afternoons.

In other news, the district business offices officially moved from their space at the high school to the house on Pelhamdale next to Colonial.

The following varsity sport teams were named scholar athletes: girls basketball, girls ice hockey, boys and girls indoor track, cheerleading, boys basketball and boys swimming. Scholar athlete teams must maintain a grade point average of 90% or better as a team. Alongside those teams there were 102 individual scholar athletes.

Champ thanked Pelham United for organizing the recent Stop Asian Hate rally and “for putting their passions and beliefs into action.”

A policy on the searching of students was reevaluated and read at the meeting. “Searches and questionings should be handled with the most sensitivity to the student,” said Trustee Eileen Miller.

The next board of education meeting is scheduled for April 21 at 7:30 p.m. and can be viewed on YouTube.