Worcester Public Schools plan to transition to hybrid model next month, but most students expected to return to classrooms in third quarter

The Worcester Public Schools has released an outline of its plan to transition into a hybrid learning model next month, though most students are not slated to return to classrooms until next year.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, all Worcester students are currently learning remotely as New England’s second-largest city works to combat the spread of the virus and as HVAC upgrades are needed in school buildings. When the second term of the school year starts Nov. 16, students who need the most assistance are slated to start returning to school buildings during the week.

However, thousands of students are not expected to return until next year, during the third quarter of the school year, according to the district’s transition plan.

The transition plan notes that start dates could be affected by coronavirus in the community, any changes in state guidance and the readiness of school buildings. The city is working with Honeywell to make upgrades to HVAC systems in district buildings. Worcester has also been labeled a city at high risk for coronavirus transmission for four consecutive weeks.

Worcester’s plan calls for all students with significant disabilities to start back in school buildings on Nov. 16, learning in-person on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. There are 904 students in that group, documents indicate.

Also on Nov. 16, the district plans to have sophomores, juniors and seniors at Worcester Technical High School return to the building. That includes 1,109 students who will be in-person one day weekly during technical weeks, either Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday depending on the cohort.

Comprehensive High Schools Chapter 74 Program Students will return on Nov. 16 with students in-person one day weekly, either Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday depending on the cohort. This includes 604 total students.

A total of 180 Innovation Pathway Students will return Nov. 16, in-person one day every other week.

New Citizen Center Elementary, Secondary, and Young Adult Students will be in-person four days weekly, Monday through Thursday, starting Nov. 16. This group includes 71 students.

And a total of 264 students from the Academic Center for Transition (ACT), Alternative Program at St. Casmirs, Challenge and Reach Academy, and Gerald Creamer Center Day and Evening Programs and the Transitions Program will be in person four days weekly, Monday through Thursday, also starting Nov. 16.

During the second quarter, which runs through Jan. 22, a number of staff members are expected to be in classrooms, including principals and assistant principals; focused instructional coaches; school nurses, LPNs, CNAs; some cafeteria workers; special education teachers, instructional assistants, behavioral specialists, behavior intervention consultants; staff who teach and support students with complex significant disabilities, and other staff members. Employees are expected to return as ventilation upgrades are completed and will be given two weeks advance notice, documents indicate.

Then in the third quarter, which runs from Jan. 25 through April 1, more students are slated to return to classrooms.

By that point, students with higher needs will transition to their school of record, documents indicate. If HVAC repairs are not complete by Nov. 16, there is a possibility students could be learning in buildings other than their official school, district officials previously told MassLive.

When the third quarter starts on Jan. 25, pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first-grade students are expected to return to buildings one day per week. This is a total of 4,201 students.

Also at the start of the third quarter, 5,227 students in seventh, ninth and twelfth grade will return to in-person classes one day per week.

Then, on Feb. 1, students in second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth, tenth and eleventh grade will return to class one day per week. This group includes 12,332 students.

During the third quarter, all staff members are slated to return to buildings as ventilation upgrades are completed. Staff will be notified two weeks ahead, documents indicate.

Members of the Worcester School Committee plan to discuss the transition at a meeting on Thursday. A virtual parent forum is scheduled for Oct. 19 at 5:30 p.m.

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  • Worcester making $15 million in HVAC upgrades to city, school buildings to improve air quality

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