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Mishawaka schools to use hybrid learning model by grades

Published: Jan. 14, 2021 at 5:39 PM EST
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MISHAWAKA, Ind. (WNDU) - In today’s Parents Playbook, we’re looking at how Mishawaka schools plan to bring students back into the classroom for second semester.

We’ve gotten messages from viewers about why the plan for Mishawaka middle and high schools looks different than that of others in St. Joseph County.

16 News Now reporter Jack Springgate joins us live outside Mishawaka High School to tell us what we can expect when students head back to the classroom next Tuesday.

Last semester middle and high school students in Mishawaka started their 50/50 hybrid model by splitting up students alphabetically. After hearing feedback from teachers, students, and parents, they’ll still go with a 50/50 hybrid model in the second semester, but they’ll split students up by grade instead of last name.

At John Young Middle School, seventh graders will be in person on Monday and Tuesday.

Eighth graders are in the building on Thursday and Friday.

Both grades will be virtual on Wednesdays and the days they’re not in the classroom.

At the high school, freshmen and sophomores will be in the building on Monday and Tuesday.

Juniors and Seniors go for in person learning the rest of the week.

This strategy will keep the building at less than fifty percent capacity and also make student-minded improvements from the first semester strategy.

“In the 50/50 hybrid they found themselves in sparsely populated classrooms with just a handful of kids. They found themselves in school when maybe their friends weren’t there. It was just a solemn experience for a lot of them and a lot of them sought that comfort of, ‘I come to school because it’s fulfilling for me, it’s a safe place for me,’” says Sarah Hickle, School City of Mishawaka Assistant Superintendent.

Hickle says students will likely fill some classrooms, like this economics class for seniors, beyond fifty percent because a larger number of students in shared classes will be at school at the same time.

She says no classroom will ever be at one-hundred percent capacity.

“Even with bringing them back by class rather than alphabetically, we can still keep them in a classroom where they’re safely apart,” Hickle says.

Teachers also have less on their plate knowing the majority of their students will either be in the class or online, unlike the more proportionate splits from first semester.

And some of you might be wondering why those freshmen and sophomores only get two days of in person learning while juniors and seniors get three.

Hickle says this strategy gives them more classrooms in the building to spread out if needed.

“At the high school in particular, we have a fear for our juniors and seniors looking at graduation rates, so we knew that the revisions we made to the plan would prioritize supporting our juniors and seniors. You can see that with the plan with them having three days in person and trying to get as many of them back in person as possible,” she says.

Hickle said no classroom will be at one-hundred percent capacity because there will still be some students who elected to continue virtual learning. They also have more classrooms if they need to split up in person classes to make social distancing possible.

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