Hybrid Learning Model

About the Hybrid Learning Model

We know that there are many questions regarding what the hybrid learning model will look like. 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.

What is a hybrid learning model?

A hybrid learning model is a combination of in-person and remote learning. Some of our students are already engaged in a hybrid learning model (they are currently in our Cohort C group – more info on Cohorts below.) 

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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  which includes:

  • A personal responsibility  (PDF) |  (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 6-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 .
  • Contact tracing to quickly inform students, families, and staff if possible exposure to COVID-19 has occurred.
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What considerations and planning are taking place to offer the hybrid learning model to more students?

While we are in our planning phase, we will continue to partner with the Holyoke Board of Health and rely on Holyoke’s COVID-19 Health Metrics to determine the exact start date for in-person learning to begin.  We will begin our transition to increased in-person learning once we begin to see a consistent and observable reduction in cases in Holyoke. Our staff are carefully planning to safely transition more students to our hybrid learning model. Staff are diligently prioritizing the creation of safe schedules, routines and spaces.

We currently have target start dates for students, which you can learn about in the question below.

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What are the target dates for students returning to school in-person in the hybrid model?

In reviewing the health metric trends and reflecting on feedback from our stakeholders, we have decided to revise the hybrid learning model re-entry target dates.  We believe this is in the best interest of maintaining the health and safety of our students, families, and staff.  We are revising the original target dates so that our early learners will begin to transition into in-person learning in February.  More details will be shared by the end of the 1/11/21 week.

As we have communicated,  target start dates are not finalized – they are dates that we are planning for with the understanding that they might have to shift based on current health data.  The target dates will be selected in consultation with the Holyoke Board of Health and will be a phased return by grade level.

For your reference, the original plan to return students was:

  • preschool through grade 2 starting on January 21, 2021
  • grades 3-5 and grade 9 starting on February 4, 2021
  • grade 6-8 and 10-12 returning February 25, 2021
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How do you determine the dates for students to return to in-person learning?

We will continue to use the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) reopening guidance and partner with the Holyoke Board of Health to monitor district and Holyoke health data to slowly bring more students back to in-person learning in a hybrid model. Please note that providing all our students with the best learning model possible while prioritizing the health, safety, and well-being of all students and staff is our top priority.

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What does a phase into hybrid learning look like for my student?

When students do return, grades PK-K will participate in the Integrated Hybrid Model.  

  • Students who wish to participate in in-person learning will be assigned to Cohort C and attend in-person 4 days/week. They will be assigned an in-person teacher.
  • Students who are fully remote (assigned to Cohort D) will be assigned a remote learning teacher.

Grades 1-12 will participate in the Livestream Hybrid Model.  

  • Students who wish to participate in in-person learning will be assigned to Cohort A or B and attend in-person 2 days/week. They will join the class virtually on their remote days.
  • Students who are fully remote (assigned to Cohort D) will join the class virtually with their in-person peers.

Due to our current class sizes and room configurations, it is not possible to bring back all students for learning 5 days a week and still maintain physical distancing protocols. That is why our grades 1-12 students will engage in in-person learning two days a week versus four. We will phase into our hybrid model on a staggered schedule, prioritizing our youngest students first.  

Please note: students who are currently enrolled in Cohort C for 4 days a week will remain on the 4-days/week schedule.

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What is a cohort and which days of the week will each cohort attend school in-person?

As communicated in the 12-17-20 Holyoke Update, in the hybrid model, approximately half of the students will be in school at a time. Students will participate in one of the following 4 cohorts within the hybrid model.


  • 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 will be assigned to Cohort C and will 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.


Wednesdays are full remote learning days for all students assigned to Cohort A, B, or C. Deep cleaning will occur in all schools in the district on Wednesdays.  See the chart below.


hybrid model in person details decortive


decorative in person details

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When and how do I find out what if my student will be assigned to Cohort A or B?

Families will be notified of their child’s cohort assignment two to three weeks prior to the target return date by their child’s school.  Parents of children in grades Preschool through Grade 2 should have received their child’s cohort assignment letters from their respective schools and will have an opportunity to request changing their current cohort selection (from full remote to in-person or from in-person to full remote).  Please review the cohort assignment letters carefully and make any cohort change requests with 1 to 1.5 weeks from receiving them, by contacting your child’s school.  While our target re-entry dates are being revised, the cohort assignments will remain in effect. 

Next week (the week of 1/11/21), we will share the revised target entry dates with families.   Families in grades 3 through 12 will receive their child’s cohort assignment two to three weeks prior to the target return date.

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If the Cohort my student is assigned to does not work for our family, what can I do?

Upon receipt of your child’s cohort assignment, you will be given an opportunity to review the assignment for accuracy.  You may request a transfer between in-person and remote cohorts. Transfers will be reviewed by the school staff to determine approval based on the ability to maintain social distancing for in-person cohorts and manageable class sizes for the full remote cohort.  Students who reside in the same household have been placed in the same cohort.  If you have multiple students (from the same household) who have not been placed in the same in-person cohort (Cohort A or B), you may request a transfer so that the students can attend in-person learning on the same days.  We will not allow any other transfers between Cohort A or B.

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How will the adjusted school hours effect my child's school schedule?

In the December 29th Holyoke Update, we provided information about the newly adjusted school day (starting on January 19th) that will be structured based on the uniqueness of the school, program, and grade. In response to formal and informal feedback from students, families and teachers – as well as updated DESE guidelines – we have developed a structured day that will allow students to be more engaged with their peers and teachers, will offer small group instruction for additional support and include time for necessary breaks and opportunities for asynchronous and synchronous (live instruction) learning time. 

The original school schedule included synchronous learning from 8 AM – noon and asynchronous learning of up to 2.5 hours daily.  The schedule provided students with 6.5 hours of learning daily.  The schedule change will now offer students  a 6 hour school day, with 4-5 hours of synchronous learning scheduled throughout the day that includes movement breaks, lunch breaks, recess (for younger grades), hand-washing breaks, transition, and cleaning time. Wednesdays will follow the current schedule of no more than 3 hours of synchronous learning for grades K-8 and no more than 4 hours for grades 9-12. Synchronous learning on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays is as follows: 

  • Grades K-2 is 4 hours daily,
  • Grades 3-8 is 5 hours daily,
  • Grades 9-12 is 4.5-5 hours daily 

This change allows the district to:

  • Increase synchronous (live) instructional time to meet the needs of students and following updated DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) guidelines
  • Develop bussing schedules to safely transport students to and from school and maintain all safety protocols and appropriate distancing.
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Why were the school hours adjusted?

Many variables go into planning the structured learning day – remote or hybrid – with the goal of creating the best educational experience for our students despite the challenges the pandemic presents.  We as a district are continually striving to create more meaningful and engaging learning opportunities throughout the school day.  It is not our expectation that any child is sitting in front of a screen for 6 hours, but rather students have ongoing engagement in structured learning throughout the day with the goal of improving the learning experience for all students.  

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Watch Dr. V’s Top 3 Video to Learn about our Return to School Plans

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