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COVID Comeback School Models

Sample student groupings, schedules, staff roles, and system-wide implications that enable physical distancing and support social-emotional strategies

To help school and system leaders develop locally relevant school models for 2020-21, we developed a series of "COVID Comeback School Models" that offer sample student groupings, schedules, staff roles, and system-wide implications. While it is unlikely that any single model will perfectly describe your school, the choices and tradeoffs are built to help you with complex school design decisions this summer, assuming that physical distancing will persist for some portion of the school year. 

Each model incorporates a hybrid approach – where students attend school both in-person and remotely on a predictable schedule – and/or a mix of approaches in-person, hybrid and remote approaches. School sizes, grade configurations and student profiles are based on ERS’ national comparative database.

The models are organized to accomplish a common set of goals (see below for full list of goals) and to incorporate a set of academic and social-emotional strategies (see below for full list of strategies), based on input from national experts. Before you dig into the specific models, we recommend you read Decision Points for COVID Comeback Models, which walks through a process to choose the best model for your context. These models support Steps 4 and 5 of that process. We also have a calculator that helps district leaders understand the high-level configuration of models that is feasible given staffing and facilities constraints as well as key tradeoffs and resource shifts.


ELEMENTARY SCHOOL COMEBACK MODELS

School Model

Which students are all-in-person?

How many students do a hybrid of in-person and remote learning?

Which students are all-remote?

Early grades in person

Video Guide

Works well when (1) prioritizing maximum in-person school for younger students and (2) no option for district-wide remote school; all resource tradeoffs must happen within your school.

Students with disabilities served in a self-contained setting.

All grade K-3 students.

None.

All grade 4-5 students.

All students who opt out of attending in-person school for health or family reasons.

Family choice

Video Guide

Works well when (1) there is high demand for remote school at all grade levels and (2) sufficient space and staff to accommodate all who want to attend in-person.

Students with disabilities served in a self-contained setting.

All grade K-5 Students who opt for all in-person school

None.

All students who opt out of attending in-person school for health or family reasons.

School-wide hybrid

Video Guide

Works well when (1) prioritizing a hybrid approach for all students who want it and (2) teacher teams are set up to  adapt and provide instruction for a mix of in-person and remote learning

Students with disabilities served in a self-contained setting.

Remote day students who need/choose supervised space to learn.

All other grade K-5 students in A/B day with a split schedule, i.e. different schedules and instructors on remote and in-person days

All students who opt out of attending in-person school for health or family reasons.

 

Middle School comeback models

School Model

How many students are all-in-person?

How many students do a hybrid of in-person and remote learning?

How many students are all-remote?

Highest-need students in person

Video Guide

Works well when (1) prioritizing the highest-need students (including and beyond students with low-incidence disabilities) for in-person support, (2), there is high interest in remote school at all grade levels, and (3) fewer than half of students are considered “high-need,” enabling you to avoid unintentional tracking.

Students with disabilities served in a self-contained setting

Other highest-need students.

Remaining seats offered to students based on a lottery system.

None.

All other students.

Hybrid A/B Days

Video Guide

Works well when (1) you are prioritizing a hybrid approach for all students who want it and (2) you can staff classrooms with two educators to help integrate students whose families have chosen to keep them at home.

 None.

All students. 

 None.

 

High school comeback models

School Model

How many students are all-in-person?

How many students do a hybrid of in-person and remote learning?

How many students are all-remote?

Transition grade in person 

Video Guide

Works well when (1) planning for stringent physical distancing requirements, (2) prioritizing support for students in their transition year, and (3) most families buy into in-person school if it is available.

9th grade students.

Students with disabilities served in a self-contained setting.

Students who opt into attending school every day but participate in remote learning from a separate location in the building on their remote days.

None.

All other students.

Hybrid A/B Week

Video Guide

Works well when (1) prioritizing a hybrid approach for all students who want it and (2) teacher teams are set up to adapt and provide instruction for a mix of in-person and remote learning

None.

All students.

None.

 

all grade levels: remote-only

Remote scheduling companion

Works well when (1) you want consistent daily schedules that establish helpful routines and limit demands for adult facilitation at home, (2) you want daily synchronous instruction that enables face-to-face instruction with a teacher, particularly in math, ELA, and science, (3) you are prioritizing daily connections for each student with at least one consistent adult, and (4) you are prioritizing dedicated time for additional social-emotional support.

 

Goals of our COVID Comeback Models:

  • In-person support for higher-need SWD students
  • Time and staffing structures that enable small group instruction and flexible re-grouping; differentiated roles for instructional delivery, especially for lesson development and remote teaching
  • Significant time for teacher planning, collaboration and review of student data
  • Scheduled time for personal connection between students and teachers individually and in groups
  • Extended calendar, assuming it will be difficult to add time to the school day
  • Remote option available to all students at all grade levels - could be a district/state/outside provider-run virtual school or an option integrated with individual or clusters of schools depending on strategy and resource constraints.

Academic and Social-Emotional Strategies incorporated into all COVID Comeback Models:

  • Clearly stated strategy for organizing core instruction
  • Acceleration time for students with the most unfinished learning
  • Teacher leadership roles that extend the reach of the most effective teachers
  • Content-focused collaborative planning time for teachers – at least 40 minutes, and ideally as much as 90 minutes, weekly
  • A Daily Community Circle to build and strengthen a sense of belonging among students and staff
  • A Care Team organized to respond to the needs of the students and families who have been most adversely impacted by COVID-19
  • Check-ins for shared-student teacher teams, where teachers and support staff meet to identify students who may be struggling socially or emotionally.
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