Blue Valley parents grateful for in-person classes, but some worry about complex hybrid schedule

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Blue Valley Schools are now planning to return all students to in-person classes starting next month. 

Elementary students will be full-time. Middle and high school students will attend in a hybrid schedule, part online and part face-to-face.  

“We know that from the beginning of this, when we switch learning modes, that each learning mode affects families differently,” said Kristi McNerlin, Blue Valley Schools chief communications officer. “So we have committed to giving notice so that families have time to plan.”

Deserae Minor is among parents who have been fighting to get kids back in classrooms. Virtual learning has brought struggles for her two high school students. But she’s nervous about new changes, just as the kinks of remote learning are getting worked out.

“We are getting to a point where they’re getting used to it. We get up. We have a schedule. We have a routine,” Minor said. “The kind of problems we were having in the beginning are working themselves out, which is wonderful.”

Although she desperately wants her kids back in school, she doesn’t know that a complex hybrid schedule that changes every week is the answer.  

“We need to be consistent with whatever we decided, and right now, the most consistent thing I feel personally is that if we stay in distance learning until we can absolutely go back full time and stay in full time, my opinion, I think that’s what is best for our children,” Minor said.

In the new hybrid model, students will be split into two groups by last name, attending two days in-person, then two virtually and repeat.

There won’t be a day where everyone does distance learning, like in the current elementary schedule, so each week the schedule will look different.

The district said the goal is to give kids maximum time with teachers, while maintaining social distancing with only half of students in buildings at a time, and safety measures being used now for younger students will continue district wide.

“We have learned quite a bit from seeing our elementary students,” McNerlin said. “The mitigation factors that we have put in place, we’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work. We’ve learned for sure that mask wearing is one of the most critical things we can do to stop the spread.”

The changes start Oct. 5. The district is hoping families adjust well and that soon everyone who chose in-person learning can have their students back in classrooms full-time.

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