Franklin Tech opts for hybrid learning model

  • Franklin County Technical School is opening this fall with a hybrid model, in which students will be in school every other day, and at home the alternate day. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 8/13/2020 4:03:16 PM

MONTAGUE — Franklin County Technical School is opening this fall with a hybrid model, in which students will be in school every other day, and at home the alternate day.

The hybrid model was considered to be the most desirable option in a survey of school staff and students’ parents and guardians, which was cited in the reopening plan. A fully remote model was considered the least desirable.

The full reopening plan, which has sections on bussing, individual shop classes, masks, school cleaning policies and more, can be found at bit.ly/2XVX6Bm.

The normal hybrid schedule, however, will not start until the second week of school. The first week, starting Sept. 15, is organized so that ninth graders are in school every day for orientation programs, and the other three grades alternate between remote and in-person classes.

In the normal schedule, two grade levels will be in school on any given day, and the other two will be in school the next day. The total number of students in the building will be under 300 at a time, compared to about 570 normally, said Principal Brian Spadafino.

Of the two grade levels in school at once, one will be in academic classes, and the other will be in vocational shop classes.

On the remote learning days, students will have either their shop class or academic classes.

Remote shop classes may involve video demonstrations and virtual simulations. They will probably focus mostly on “related work,” which comprises academic work, review and other topics that are not necessarily hands-on, said Career and Technical Education Coordinator Matt West.

In school, shop classrooms will be rearranged for better social distancing and ventilation. Many shops will follow the current safety guidelines for their industries, West said.

“It’s going to be a different world when the kids come back,” West said. “But all indications point to the fact that they want to come back. Our kids are active, they are learning with their hands and their minds, and we want that to happen for them.”

Academic classes on remote days will be essentially the same as on in-school days. They will be scheduled on the same timetable as regular in-person classes. For example, a teacher will still have the same number of classes each day, but some of his or her classes will be taught remotely, Spadafino said.

This schedule differs completely from the asynchronous online classes that the school used this spring, in which students did not necessarily have to be online at the same time as their teachers, Spadafino explained.

Classrooms will have air purifiers, hallways will be one-way, bathrooms will have occupancy limits, and teachers will schedule a few minutes in each class period for outdoor mask breaks, Spadafino said.

“We’re taking precautions like we’ve never done before,” he said. “If teachers do what they’re supposed to be doing, and students do what they’re supposed to be doing, we have a better chance of staying in school for longer periods of time.”

Students should expect to spend more time than usual outside, he noted. Not only for mask breaks, but also because physical education, for example, will be outdoors whenever possible, even as the weather gets colder.

“Our kids for the most part are used to that. They’re used to working in inclement weather,” Spadafino said. “But this is a different year.”

Reach Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-930-4231.




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