Superintendent Jason Perrin announced on Monday that students at the three elementary schools in the Gettysburg Area School District (GASD) will be moving from their current four day per week schedule to five days per week as of November 9.
Perrin said the hybrid model was initially put in place in part to help the district “gain some experience in remote learning in case there were shutdowns along the way. That has been extremely helpful.”
Perrin said the new schedule would allow the district enough time to make adjustments and that the change does not require board approval because it does not change the district’s health and safety plan.
In terms of secondary students, Perrin said “a current advantage of the secondary model is that it does allow for 6 feet of distance within the buildings and that has helped us.”
“A challenge is that students are only experiencing in-person instruction twice a week. There are students who struggle with remote learning, that’s also a challenge,” said Perrin.
Perrin said the secondary classes would remain on the existing hybrid model but that the district hoped to make a decision about what to do next semester by the first board meeting on December 7.
Perrin said possibilities were to bring some students to school on Fridays or to bring all students back full time. “It’s a matter of how things are going both educationally and in regards to how we’re doing with the health and safety plan,” said Perrin.
High School Principal Jeremy Lusk said teachers and students were adapting to the new learning situation. “ When we talked about hybrid model we talked about safety and sustainability. I think we’re achieving both,” said Lusk. “Students understand what’s going to allow them to remain in school.”
Lusk noted the difficulties that faced teachers who were had to teach both hybrid and online-only courses. “There’s a whole lot of newness going on,” said Lusk . “This is a pretty steep learning curve.” Lusk said teachers were working harder than ever.
“We’ve had more positive staff cooperation going now on than ever before which is a good thing. The teachers are finally feeling comfortable and they’re seeing that in their students,” said Lusk.
Lusk said although there were challenges, the new learning model also taught students some important skills. “Whether they know it or not, students are developing skills that are absolutely essential for life,” said Lusk.
“As difficult as it is to chaperone a homecoming dance with about 700 or 800 kids, and It’s not something I really look forward to in any given year, I missed it this year,” said Lusk.
Lusk said the high school was now offering after school support sessions on Monday through Thursdays for online and in-person students who need help, and that the program may be expanded to evening hours.
Middle School Principal Nancy Herb said the first part of the semester had been devoted in large part to learning the new system, and that now the school has “really started to target kids who are struggling with attendance.”
Herb said teachers have been reaching out to families who are having difficulty and creating personalized interventions.