by Terry Rogers
Since starting the process of bringing students into school buildings for a hybrid version of in-person teaching, Milford School District administrators say that students are adapting well to the new protocols and rules to protect them and staff from COVID-19. As of Monday, October 19, Milford School District had 70 percent of their Pre-Kindergarten through fifth grade students attending in a hybrid version with sixth through eighth grade beginning on October 26.
“Our students have done a wonderful job in hybrid learning,” Dr. Bridget Amory, Director of Student Learning, said. “Our families, our teachers, the daycare providers, have all stepped up and done what needed to be done to get our kids back in the classroom. We have had community locations open to offer free internet for those who don’t have it. We’ve had a really good beginning. I understand it is only part-time, but a lot of work has gone into this. Our staff has created smooth transitions back into the classroom and we look forward to more children coming in. Our students are so excited to be back in school and our families have been so supportive as we work to safely bring or children back.”
Dr. Amory also praised Jon LoBiondo, Supervisor of Transportation, as well as the support staff, bus drivers and contractors who have managed bus routes that change each week. Ryan Winkleblech, Athletic Director, also stated that students participating in sports have stepped up and followed COVID protocol, pointing out that athletes are taking the virus seriously. Sports are limited to no more than two spectators per player and the visiting team may not bring any spectators.
“In early September, we surveyed families and asked them to either make a commitment for full remote or the hybrid model for their children,” Dr. Amory said. “Families who choses the hybrid model attend in cohorts on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday, depending on the cohort. We have left Wednesday open for students who need extra help. We asked parents to select either hybrid or remote for the first two semesters, so this will remain in effect until early January. We are still surveying our high school families as the nature of their schedule requires us to wait until at least the second semester to start hybrid learning for them.”
Dr. Amory explained that Milford is working with other districts in Delaware who have already begun high school hybrid learning in order to determine methods that are successful. She stated that this research is one of the reasons they have not begun moving high school students back into the classroom.
“Social distancing is not a problem for our youngest learners,” Dr. Amory said. “I have witnessed children ask teachers what else they need to do so they can come to school more days. I’ve seen teachers give shoe kicks rather than high-fives. One day, I was at a school when a first grader arrived and he appeared to be unsure where to go. I was making small talk with him as we rounded a corner and his teacher was at the end of the hall. When he saw her, he got a little pick-up in his step. He grinned and said loudly “She’s real!” He had only ever seen her on a computer screen. That was a humbling moment for me.”
Dr. Kevin Dickerson, Superintendent, informed the board that if a student or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19, it will be reported. The school uses letters provided by the Department of Public Health that will be sent out. In addition, the district will use the All-Call system in order to notify district parents and staff. There are also plans to notify the entire community should there be a positive case in the district.