Classes re-open to students -- half-at-a-time

Jan 11, 2021

Credit KBBI file photo.

There will be a larger number of students attending school starting today in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.
    In an effort to keep the spread of Covid-19 down, each grade at Homer Middle and Homer High schools will be split in two, each of which will attend on alternating days, with 100 percent remote learning on Wednesdays. Principal Keri Denderent explained on Thursday’s Covid Brief.
    “At Homer Middle School, we have about 50 percent of our students who are attending in-person on the A days while our B population will be having direct access to their teachers remotely. On Tuesday, we will be switching where our A students will be remotely learning from home and our B students will be in person. On Wednesdays all of our students will be 100% remote.”
    The attendance schedule from Monday and Tuesday will then be repeated on Thursday and Friday.
    Denderent said the students have been further broken down into groups that will attend classes together.
    “What we have done is we have created consistent cohorts to help make sure that we can mitigate any spread. So all of those students will be traveling in the same pods together. So they will not be intermixing with other students,” Denderent said. “The smallest (cohort) I believe is eight, the largest cohort is 16. And so those students will be traveling together for all six periods, attending the same lunch periods, the same enrichment periods.”
    Despite all the disruptions, Denderent says the biggest change facing students is a six-period day.
    “The biggest change that we made at Homer Middle School is we changed to our students going back to a traditional six period day,” she said. “And so that definitely will be an adjustment, but we just felt it was really important for those students to have access to their teachers every day, whether it is in person or remote.”
    Homer High School Principal Douglas Waclawski further explained the need for splitting up each class.
    “The biggest question that we've gotten so far is when we split up groups, is can they switch groups, cause they want to be with their friends. And right now we can't accommodate that. Part of the point of splitting them up like this is to make sure that each class has half the number of students in it so that we can spread them out six feet apart,” Waclawski said. “So if it gets a little bit unbalanced, and we have too many students in a classroom, then we can't do that. That's also one of our mitigation plans.”