Update: New DESE Return to School Guidance
On March 9th, in consultation with medical experts and state health officials, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Commissioner Riley has released new Guidance on In-Person Learning Requirements that requires districts and schools to shift their learning model for:
- Elementary school grade levels to full-time, in-person instruction five days per week effective Monday, April 5, 2021.
- Middle school grade levels to full-time, in-person instruction five days per week, effective Wednesday, April 28, 2021.
- While a return date is not finalized for grades 9-12, we anticipate that high school students may return to in-person learning on May 10 (Opportunity Academy students may return May 5th). Read more.
Before the newly released guidance from DESE, we began phasing into our hybrid model starting with our youngest students on February 22nd. These PreK and Kindergarten students who have selected to participate in the hybrid model began attending school in-person four days a week: Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Friday. Grades 1-2 students selecting in person learning returned March 8th. We are excited to welcome back our students in Grades 3-5 who selected in-person learning on March 22nd. The start dates for all other grade levels can be found below. (See the FAQ: What are the target dates for students returning to school in-person in the hybrid model?)
The only learning models HPS will offer after these dates will be full in-person learning 5 days/week or full remote learning 5 days/week. These changes will be effective on the dates listed above.
About the Hybrid Learning Model
Please click through our FAQ and watch the videos below that will answer some of those questions. Also, please check back as we will be updating this page with more information regularly.
We realize some families may prefer for their children to continue with the remote learning model this school year, and we will continue to work diligently to strengthen the remote learning experience as well.
What is a hybrid learning model?
What is HPS doing to keep students and staff who are physically present in our buildings as safe as possible?
In order to keep students and staff who are physically present in our buildings as safe as possible, HPS has implemented a detailed plan which includes:
- A personal responsibility Return to School Safety Pledge for Students (PDF) | En Español (PDF) to stay home when ill and follow all other precautions, required of each student, family and staff member.
- Masks required for all staff and students in grades PreK-12, unless prevented due to a medical condition or behavior concern. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for staff members, especially those who work with the most vulnerable students.
- Social distancing in classrooms of at least 3-feet and smaller groups of students in each classroom.
- Enhanced cleaning procedures, including cleaning high-touch surfaces multiple times a day, regular cleaning daily and deep cleaning between cohorts of students.
- Proper ventilation and classes outdoors at the discretion of teachers to promote fresh air.
- Staff training on new safety and health procedures.
- Extremely restricted access to all buildings by non-HPS employees.
- Quick access to COVID-19 testing through local testing sites.
- Free COVID-19 Pooled Testing Program
- Contact tracing to quickly inform students, families, and staff if possible exposure to COVID-19 has occurred.
- Offering two vaccination clinics for HPS staff in partnership with the Holyoke Health Center.
What are the upcoming target dates for students returning to school in person in the hybrid learning model?
Students in grades 3-5 who have selected in-person learning returned on March 22nd. Students were assigned to Cohort A or B and attend in-person 2 days/week. They join the class virtually on their remote days. Starting on April 5th these students will attend school 5 days/week.
Students in Grades 6-8 who selected to participate in school-based Campus Learning Centers (CLCs) returned the week of March 29th. Students participate in CLCs at their regular school for 2 days/week. Starting April 26th these students will attend school 5 days/week.
Students who are learning in-person at school do not need to wear uniforms, although they may choose to. The priority is on creating a safe environment; families do need to ensure the student has a face covering/mask. Contact your school if you need a mask for your child.
If you haven’t done so already, please complete your child’s Return to School Packet. It is absolutely critical that we have the most current phone numbers for every student in attendance, so that we can quickly contact you if your child becomes ill while at school.
- Grades 9-12:
- North Campus will run additional Campus Learning Centers (CLC) as their hybrid model. Currently, a few CLCs are successfully running at both Dean and North Campus.
- Dean Campus will continue to run its current schedule of 1 day/week in person by grade level “Vocational Learning Day” as well as continue to run a CLC.
What are Campus Learning Centers (CLCs)?
What is a cohort and which days of the week will each cohort attend school in person?
- Cohort A will attend school in-person on Mondays and Tuesdays and have guided remote learning on Thursdays and Fridays.
- Cohort B will have guided remote learning on Mondays and Tuesdays and will attend school in-person on Thursdays and Fridays.
- Cohort C:
- Students in preschool and Kindergarten who have selected to participate in the hybrid model have been assigned to Cohort C and attend school four days a week: Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Friday.
- Cohort C will continue to include the current structure for student groups who are already attending school in-person four days a week (students at Transitions Academy, Dean Campus and some students who are receiving specialized instructional support).
- Cohort D is for students who will continue to participate fully in remote learning.
Deep cleaning will occur in all schools in the district after school hours. See the chart below.