Weston High plans transition to extended-day, hybrid model

An exterior of Weston High School in Weston, Conn. shot Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012.

An exterior of Weston High School in Weston, Conn. shot Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012.

Autumn Driscoll / Autumn Driscoll

WESTON — Weston High School will move from a half-day, hybrid model to an extended-day, hybrid schedule on Nov. 16, school officials announced.

“After much thought and reflection, the WHS administrative team has designed a hybrid extended day schedule to be implemented beginning Nov. 16,” Weston High School principal Lisa Wolak said in an email to parents Friday.

The announcement comes as the high school continues in a remote learning model. The school temporarily switched after 17 staff members with “critical” responsibilities were asked to quarantine due to a possible COVID exposure.

Wolak said the decision was reached after careful study and analysis of data, including a student-organized survey, teacher input, feedback from voluntary distance, in-person and at home students. Discussions were also held with team leaders and curriculum leaders.

“Overwhelmingly in their survey, over 500 students expressed concern with being on-screen for 6 plus hours on their off-cohort day in addition to homework time in the evening,” she said.

Students and staff feedback supported a return to a schedule with six to eight periods meeting daily, she said.

“The pacing of instruction, assessment, and homework obligations work well in this model, and student stress is reduced,” Wolak said.

The new schedule will see students attend in-person classes from 7:45 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. on their respective cohort days, with students logging in to classes remotely at the start of each period.

“With the engagement of off-cohort students, overall instructional time is increased,” Wolak said.

Six classes will now meet per day as opposed to the current four, increasing face-to-face time. She said a wellness break is also scheduled during the third block of the day, during which snacks will be sold and students may take a mask break.

There will be a daily extended learning hour from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. for extended learning opportunities, which can include scheduled conferencing and students having the opportunity to drop-in for extra help.

Screen time for at-home students will be reduced to four hours and 40 minutes of class time, followed by a 70-minute break and then the extended learning.

“If a transition to a full-time remote scenario is necessary, we would run a similar schedule — without cohorts,” Wolak said.

She said the adverse impacts of stress and anxiety on the youth must be considered in these unprecedented times.

“They are working in an environment of fear and uncertainty,” Wolak said. “The extended learning hour provides students with access to all teachers outside of class, which is very important to their well-being and academic progress.”