GROTON, Conn. — The Groton Public School System voted on adopting a hybrid return to school plan. Groton is the largest school district in New London County. They join a number of other schools in the county doing the same.
"Distance-learning was a good alternative to last year, but I definitely hope we go back some portion of the week," said Fitch High School senior Ashley Spreng.
Spreng and her women's soccer teammate's hopes were confirmed Monday evening. The Groton School board voted to pass a hybrid reopening model for the fall. A model they say was overwhelmingly supported by parents, students, and teachers during their focus groups.
The model would include two days of in-class teaching and three distance learning days a week.
"I feel pretty safe going back," said Avery Lyon. "Connecticut is doing super well as a state so I definitely feel more comfortable going back," said Kelsey Ursini.
Not only do both of those students feel comfortable attending Fitch this fall but parents say it’s needed for their mental health. Jennifer Spreng is a parent a psychiatrist. She says saw a rise in anxiety, depression and in suicide attempts among her clients due to the lack of social interactions and routine
"These kids need to be around their peers," said Spreng. "There needs to be in-class instruction. They need to be face-to-face with their teachers and they need to be living life as normally as possible."
The hybrid model will be in place at all schools in the district. Students with the last names A through M will be in class Mondays and Tuesdays while N through Z students will attend Thursday and Friday. The rest of the week they will be distance learning.
The school district is working on live streaming classes and modifying online learning platforms to better engage students. All of this is an attempt to limit interaction among students to limit potential outbreaks and improve contact tracing.
"We realize in childcare facilities that there will be some interactions and youth sports activities but we’re gonna do the best we can to minimize that," said Michael Graner the Superintendent of Groton Schools.
The board admits the plan has some work to do and won't be foolproof. They are also working on the details for before and after school care for students. They say those programs will only be available to the students the days they are in class.
"I think childcare is a huge issue and as a community, we need to get all these resources lined up," said Garner.
The school board says they will continue to reassess the situation as the year goes on which could include a full return to school or even going fully online.
Parents will also have the option to send their kids back to school in the hybrid model or have them learn entirely from home. Parents can change their minds at any time.
You can find more detail on the plan on the Groton Public Schools website, click here.