High School HyFlex Recommendation Update

Dear Newton South and North Parents/Guardians, 

As you may already know, the High School Working Group presented our draft recommendation of implementing a HyFlex learning model for our high schools on November 16 at the School Committee meeting.  You can view the presentation here.  The working group will present our final recommendation on December 2 to the School Committee, who will also vote on the recommendation at the meeting.  

As mentioned by Superintendent Fleishman’s email update on November 17th, parents/guardians will be asked to make a choice between HyFlex in-person or full time remote learning in December.  There has been much discussion in our community since our draft recommendation was presented.  The decision about in-person or remote learning is a very personal choice and we urge you to submit any questions about the HyFlex learning model here by November 30th so the answers can help you make your decision in December.  

We wanted to answer some of the most frequently asked questions by our community this past week. 

  • The first question is about HyFlex learning. This model is NOT like returning to school as it was before schools closed in March due to COVID-19, but extends the current remote learning model to include some in-person learning days. The proposed HyFlex model is also different from what was proposed by Newton Public Schools in August 2020 in two important ways: the in-person days are now full days (vs half days), and remote learners are on zoom with their in-person classmates and taught by the same teachers as they have now in their current schedule (vs separate Distance Learning Academy).   
  • Another frequently asked question is why the cohort plan will depend on the number of students who choose in-person.  And a related question has been around the assumptions driving capacity in the building. Adhering to HHS guidelines around social distancing, an average classroom holds 12 students. There are a number of classes that have over 24 students, requiring more than two cohorts. The number of cohorts will depend on the number of students who select the in-person model. The number of in-person students will directly impact the number of cohorts required to stay at/under classroom capacity limits.  If there are 2 cohorts, your child will have 2 full in-person days each week.  If there are 3 cohorts, your child will go 2 full days the first 2 weeks, and remote on the 3rd week.  If there are 4 cohorts, your child will have 2 full days the first week, and remote for 1 week. Regardless of how many cohorts are implemented, if your child is scheduled to be in-person on a given week, they will attend 2 days in person, and 3 days remote in the proposed HyFlex model.

The draft recommendation is a result of a collaborative effort between members of our community: parents, district administrators, teachers and students. Our outreach to students, staff and outside districts helped shape our recommendation, including input from our community from general education, special education, Boston-based families, remote learning only families, ELL and METCO families. The result was that we all agreed on the importance of both in-person & remote learning are necessary to support our community.  Pros and cons of the HyFlex model were also shared and discussed with the recognition that transition for staff will be difficult and must be done with care and resources. 

As fellow parents, we know that the decision to choose in-person or remote learning is a very personal choice. The draft recommendation supports both types of learning.  It’s a challenging model for staff and students, but the positive impact on our student’s social and emotional wellbeing makes it worth implementing.  COVID-19 continues to impact all of our lives on a daily basis.  We encourage you to ask your questions so you can make the most informed decision for your family in December.  

We wish you and yours a safe and fun Thanksgiving and finding new ways to celebrate family whether you are together or on Zoom.

The High School Working Group
~ May Chiu, Newton South Parent Representative (NSHS PTSO co-President)
~ Janna Lacatell, Newton North Parent Representative (NNHS PTSO co-Secretary, NNHS PTSO Representative – Academic Standards Committee)