Black Horse Pike district updates school reopening plan

In-person, student class time has increased since Oct. 19

MATTHEW SHINKLE/The Sun

Earlier this month, the Black Horse Pike Regional School District sent a letter to parents notifying them that it would increase the amount of time students attend in-person classes within the hybrid format.

Effective Oct. 19, the district revised its hybrid model to decrease the number of student cohorts from four to two. Students now have two half-days of in-person learning, with three remote learning days, one of which is synchronous with the entire student body on Wednesday.

Students in Group A have in-person learning on Monday and Tuesday, while Group B has in-person learning on Thursday and Friday.

The district has stated previously that its first-phase plan had “slowed curriculum implementation, burdened teachers with juggling three methods of instructional delivery and limited student access to academic extra help.”

In its recent letter, the district informed parents that the Phase II instructional model would benefit students in three key areas: allow additional time for extra-academic help, increase in-person learning while decreasing class changes during the school day, and address concerns for increased failing grades.

According to Superintendent Brian Repici, a high number of students in the district were failing at least one class halfway through the first marking period, indicating a change should be made to correct a system that was not working for most students.

“This is concerning and suggestive that our instructional model may need to better address the learning needs of all students,” Repici said in the district letter. “This instructional model increases instructional time and provides opportunities for extra-academic support. The ability to livestream in-class learning will allow greater access to curricula.”

With approximately 43 percent of students in the district on remote-only learning, Black Horse Pike district officials said  “increasing access to remote, yet live instruction, will benefit all students.”

Moving forward, district teachers will test livestreaming their classrooms until the week of Nov. 2, after which livestreaming of classrooms for remote learners is expected to be 100-percent operational, according to the letter.

Acknowledging concerns about possible COVID exposure, Repici said the district is mindful of such issues and has sought an increase in instructional time to ensure academic success while also protecting students in school buildings.

It is difficult to balance the needs of some learners with the anxieties and fears surrounding COVID-19, especially for students or staff that may go home to medically fragile individuals,” Repici acknowledged.  “However, we should consider a model where we increase instructional time and the number of days in school, in a fashion that still protects those in the school. A half-day schedule eliminates students eating lunch in school and decreases class changes, which reduces contact tracing variables.”

For additional questions and concerns regarding the update plans, visit www.bhprsd.org.