The Hamilton Southeastern Schools Board of Trustees approved a motion at a special meeting Aug. 21 to allow students in grades K-4 to attend school in-person on a hybrid model starting Sept. 8. Students in grades 5-12 will remain virtual.
All students are currently learning virtually. The new hybrid model will offer a mix of in-person and virtual learning for elementary students.
HSE Supt. Allen Bourff detailed the new plan in a video released Aug. 21 on the HSE Schools’ Facebook page.
“This recommendation was based on guidance from the Fishers Health Dept. which earlier this week recategorized the community-risk assessment to orange, or significant level,” Bourff said. “At that level, elementary schools are advised to operate on a hybrid level with attendance at no more than 50 percent. Middle schools and high schools are advised to operate virtually.”
The orange category is considered a Level 3 on a four-level scale. However, the Fishers Health Dept. previously categorized the city at a Level 2, which is less severe than Level 3. When the city was at Level 2, all HSE students were required to learn virtually. The decision to allow students to return to school comes after the city was recategorized to the more severe rating of Level 3. If the city reaches a Level 4, only virtual learning will be allowed. Level 2, which is what the city was in at the time the district decided to operate on a virtual-only schedule, calls for open elementary schools and middle and high school students attending on a hybrid model.
For the new plan with HSE, elementary students will be selected to attend a certain hybrid day alphabetically based on their last name.
“Based on observations of other schools that are now in session, we anticipate student absences, and we want our elementary students to know, whether they are virtual or in-person, (that) their teacher is constant and they can count on that teacher to be there for them,” Bourff said.
Bourff said this phase of the district’s plan is expected to be in place from Sept. 8 to Oct. 2.
“If all goes well, we hope to transition to 100 percent on Oct. 5 with the virtual option for the rest of the semester,” Bourff said.
Students in grades 5-12 will remain in virtual instruction, but that determination is reassessed weekly.
“We all want our students back in the buildings and we will make that transition as soon as it is safely possible,” Bourff said.
For more, visit hseschools.org.