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Gather Information and Form Operating Assumptions

An LEA determines its initial 2020-2021 instructional delivery model by answering these questions:

  • Where will students learn in the fall?  When will students learn in-person at a school building and when will students learn remotely?
  • How will grade levels be distributed across school buildings?  Will the LEA move grades between schools compared to their 2019-2020 locations?
  • How will teachers and non-instructional staff be deployed? 
  • How will we ensure educators have time for collaborative assessment, analysis, and instructional planning? How will we ensure special education teachers and/or ESL teachers are able to participate in collaborative planning time with grade/content area teachers to ensure individual student needs are met?
  • How will vulnerable populations be addressed?
  • How will social emotional skills (e.g. relationship, conflict resolution, social problem solving, coping) and new behavioral norms focused on safety be explicitly taught and reinforced?
  • How will existing LEA initiatives be incorporated into the instructional model?

An LEA has three basic models that it can adapt based on its local conditions:

  • All In-Person: Every student attends school every day with the exception of those who are medically vulnerable.
  • Hybrid: On a given school day, a portion of students attend school in-person, while others learn at home. 
  • All Remote: All students participate in remote learning with no in-person instruction or in-person instruction only for students in very limited student groups, such as those with severe and profound disabilities or newcomer English learners at the beginning levels of English proficiency.

Within the hybrid model, there are two general iterations an LEA could adopt:

  • Grade-Based Approach: Some grade levels remain on remote learning, while other grades attend classes in-person.  This could be static for the year or could alternate by weeks or days.
  • Classroom-Based Approach: Within each grade level, a portion of students in each class engage in in-person instruction while others engage remotely. This approach would most likely follow an alternating pattern (e.g. morning/afternoon, every-other-day, or every-other-week) with "cohorts" of students swapping between in-person and remote learning.

While in-person learning is ideal for academic and social/emotional student outcomes, it may not be the safest model for all students in all LEAs at the start of the 2020-2021 school year. Available research shows that online classes are typically not as effective as in-person classes for most students. LEAs are strongly encouraged to reserve full remote learning for all students only for times when local health data requires temporary closure of a school building. Therefore, the focus of this planning kit is to help LEAs create a hybrid model for the fall that maximizes in-person learning for as many students as possible and ensures standards-aligned and rigorous learning – when remote learning is necessary.

The worksheet linked at the beginning of this section is designed to help LEAs work through the considerations described above, ultimately choosing an instructional delivery model for which to plan.  Additionally, it will provide information for LEAs to use when preparing plans for a potential shift to all-remote learning should it be necessary during the year.

The worksheet is intended to be a step-by-step process that flows from beginning to end.  Therefore, LEAs are encouraged not to skip steps. One example worksheet has been completed for purely illustrative purposes – all of the data in the examples are entirely fictional and used to demonstrate how various pieces of information would be critically considered and factored into the decision around which instructional delivery model to choose.

Although the 2020-2021 planning process will be fluid, LEAs should decide on an instructional delivery model as early as possible.  It's important to be thoughtful about choosing a model, but postponing the decision for too long will cause delays on other critical decisions and make it less likely that schools will open successfully.

LEAs should keep in mind that their decision for an instructional delivery model is probably not a decision for the whole year – the model will probably change as local health conditions shift, so planning for a temporary move to all-remote learning in addition to planning for the opening of the school year is in an LEA's best interest.