Educators in Grafton Voice Concerns Over Hybrid Learning Plan

Grafton Public Schools is hybrid five days and remote five days but educators say teachers need time built-in for planning and coordination

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Educators in one Massachusetts community are voicing their concerns with the district's fall learning plan amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Grafton Public Schools started the year with a hybrid learning plan that school officials believe is one of the most ambitious in the Commonwealth.

"I think we're one of the few districts that are five days on and five days off," said Grafton School Committee Chair Laura Often.

Despite some frustrations, Superintendent Dr. James Cummings on Thursday praised educators.

"They have met this challenge head-on and have done just a beautiful job," Cummings said.

He made it clear to the school committee this week, the one thing that's missing and is urgently needed is time built-in to teachers' schedules for planning and coordination.

"I probably underestimated just how much that's actually needed for all staff," Cummings said.

He acknowledged there are added challenges of having students on both learning models.

"Now doing three things at once, you know like trying to drink out of a fire hose," Cummings said. "I think I can speak for all staff who are just overwhelmed, exhausted, trying to figure it out as we go."

Often said that extra time in learning will only be successful if teachers have a couple of hours a week for prep time – which might mean an adjustment to the school schedule for parents.

"A lot of districts might have a day in the middle where everybody's planning, and we're not going with that model to increase education time," Often said.

While changing schedules may be tricky for many parents, parent Maria Adamo said she knows teachers need that time to plan.

"I think it's doable. I think it will be challenging regardless," Adamo said. "It seems they've been asked to undertake a lot more than obviously normal. And I cannot complain if there are little bumps in the road."

The School Committee is scheduled to meet Oct. 13 but may meet before then if the schedule needs to be more urgently adjusted to give teachers more planning time.

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