Dear Pelham Community,
As previously announced, we are thrilled to be welcoming back our elementary students to Full-Time In-Person (FTIP) instruction beginning on April 12. Over the past few weeks, our administrators have been working tirelessly toward the goal of returning as many middle and high school students to the classroom as we can, recognizing that the buildings have unique capacity and space constraints. At the Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, April 7, I was pleased to share the culmination of this work, which will allow all Pelham Middle School students who chose the in-person instructional model to return for FTIP beginning April 19 with 3-feet distancing between students. We are extremely pleased to be able to move in this direction as we know it will significantly benefit our students.
The high school presents more significant challenges with regard to space and scheduling, however after a careful analysis of our space, we have decided to shift to a more robust hybrid model which will allow students to attend school in-person 3-4 days each week rather than the 2-3 days each week that the current model allows. This new model will go into effect beginning on April 26 and will generally work as follows:
- Cohort A will continue to attend in person on Monday and Tuesday each week as well as every other Wednesday.
- Cohort B will continue to attend in person on Thursday and Friday each week as well as every other Wednesday.
- Both Cohorts will be split alphabetically into subgroups (ex. A1 & A2 and B1 & B2).
- The B1 group will join Cohort A in-person every Monday and the B2 group will join Cohort A in-person every Tuesday.
- The A1 group will join Cohort B in-person every Thursday and the A2 group will join Cohort B in-person every Friday.
- The two cohorts will continue to alternate attending on the early release Wednesdays with the subgroups also attending on a rotating basis.
- Fully virtual students and those in the subgroup that is not in-person on a particular day will continue to access their classes via Google Meet.
Importantly, both the middle and high schools will continue to use the current hybrid bell schedule, which will create continuity for our students, allow for sufficient passing time in the hallways, and maintain the amount of time for academy period, which has been instrumental for our virtual students this year.
Much like at the elementary schools, these plans to increase density in our middle and high schools include important mitigation strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep our students and staff healthy and safe. These include:
- Students, teachers and staff continue to be required to wear masks at all times (except during designated eating/drinking times)
- Students are encouraged to wear quality masks that fit properly
- Distance between students in the classroom will be 3-feet (measured from center of student to center of student)
- Portable barriers will continue to be used to provide additional protection between students and the teacher
- In addition to our regular ventilation systems and opening windows, all classrooms will be outfitted with an air purifier and window exhaust fan to improve ventilation
- Schools will make use of outdoor space when possible for eating, etc.
- Surveillance testing will be conducted across all schools to develop a baseline positivity rate and monitor for increases in COVID-19 prevalence.
- Tents have been added to Ingalls Field to allow lunch to be eaten outside as well as permit band and chorus to practice on the field.
Additional details for both the middle school and high school will be forthcoming from your respective principal.
For these plans to be successful, it is extremely important that families commit fully to the instructional option they have selected so that our administrators and teachers know which students to expect on a daily basis. With that in mind, please see these important attendance expectations which will be in effect when each school begins their new in-person model:
- Students selecting FTIP are expected to attend in person every day
- When students are sick they should stay home and recuperate (excused absence)
- Virtual learning for FTIP students can be accessed only during mandated quarantine or when awaiting test results to pass the daily screener
- Virtual learning cannot be accessed for situations such as vacation, travel, self imposed quarantine prior to travel, staying home on test days, etc.
The District will continue to assess these plans and our capacity, especially at the high school, to assure that as many students can attend in-person instruction as possible.
I want to reiterate how excited we are to be moving in this direction. By the end of April, we will have made significant progress toward normalizing the educational experience at all grade levels. While there are certainly more challenges ahead, I feel confident that this new approach will benefit our students academically, socially and emotionally following what has been an incredibly difficult year.
Dr. Cheryl H. Champ, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools