Jan 30, 2021

How are U.S. high schools handling COVID-19 as the new school year starts?

Parents across the world are anxious and unsure about how their children’s schools are combatting the spread of COVID-19.  When the pandemic hit the US this past spring, high schools quickly made the decision to stop in-person learning and implement virtual classrooms. This made for unprecedented times for both teachers and students, continuing their daily lessons plans online and doing what was needed to meet goals and deadlines to end the year successfully.  However, after an entire summer of monitoring the spread and researching the best methods to cope with the lingering virus, high schools across the country are determining the best ways to begin the 2020-21 school year.  Let us look at how Amerigo’s Houston campus, St. Pius X High School (SPX) is dealing with this unique situation through a Hybird Learning Model.

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What is a Hybrid Learning Model?

 

 SPX is currently using the Hybrid Learning Model to conducts it courses. This model has been beneficial not only to the entire school community in preventing the spread of COVID-19, but especially to international students.  International students were allowed reentry into the United States with this type of scheduling since it allows for both in-person courses and remote learning. 

The Hybrid Learning Model at SPX involves dividing the school into 2 rotating cohorts, one in physical attendance and the other actively participating virtually from home. Cohorts are split into two groups, Leaders and Scholars, dividing the student population in approximately half. This form of grouping reduces the number of people the student encounters during the school day and allows for six feet of social distancing in all classrooms.

 

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What do the class schedules look like?

 

SPX has split their days between the two cohorts.  The Leaders cohort will attend on-campus, in-person classes on Mondays and Tuesdays while the Scholars cohort attend the same classes synchronously from their devices at home. The two cohorts then switch on Thursdays and Fridays. On Wednesdays, both cohorts will engage in Flex Wednesday Learning. Flex Wednesday schedule consists of an advisory check-in, where students will begin their day by noting their attendance in their advisors reoccurring drop box.  Students will be given assignments to complete independently from their homes at their own pace. Wednesdays also allow for teachers to have office hours, where students can have the time to review course material and receive additional support in challenging areas.

How do students study online and engage in a virtual classroom?

 

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SPX is utilizing the platform Swivl to teach their online classes.  Swivl is a robotic platform which can be used for recording class lectures and presentations. Students can connect a smartphone or tablet, or a DSLR camera, and use the free Swivl app to view videos of their lecture or presentation.

Swivl is a service with 3 important components:

  • The robotic base used by the teacher

  • The free Swivl Capture app for the smartphone or tablet used by students

  • The Swivl Cloud

Swivl is great for students and teachers in a virtual classroom because:

  • The Swivl robotic base, which can move 360 degrees, can follow the the teacher based on an article of clothing, allowing the teacher to move around the classroom freely while the camera follows him/her

  • PowerPoint slides can be imported to the Swivl app on the smartphone or tablet, which can be used to present while recording lectures

  • Swivl Cloud provides secure online video, hosting, editing, and sharing services.  Teachers can review videos, add personal notes, switch audio channels to listen to different students, and summarize the main points to improve for the next day.

Thus far, Swivil has been an incredible upgrade for the online, distance learning at SPX, for both teachers and students. It has allowed SPX students to stay completely engaged and form real relationships with their teachers.

Looking Ahead

 

SPX’s homepage has information regarding their return to school plan, including their own, detailed Instructional Continuity Plan that covers how exactly they are planning to combat the spread of COVID-19. 

The Instructional Continuity Plan include five possible scenarios that students may cycle through during the 2020-2021 school year.

Tier 1: Minimal safety precautions

Tier 2: Moderate safety precautions

Tier 3: Maximum safety precautions

Tier 4: Safety precautions in small-group cohorts rotating between in-person and distance learning

Tier 5: Your child is engaged fully in remote learning with only essential staff allowed on campus

SPX has developed Models of Learning of Learning for each of the different tiers listed above.  For tiers 1-3, they will use On-campus Learning.  Tier 4, they will use the Hybrid Model and for Tier 5, they will use Distance Learning. 

Regardless of the learning model at the time, families may opt for their child to receive distance learning only. Students who are at increased risk for severe illness or whose immediate family are at increased risk, should carefully consider if remaining at home might be the best option.

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SPX has done an amazing job at planning and executing a healthy start to a brand new (yet peculiar) school year. They have taken serious action in thinking ahead and foreseeing every possible scenario they could potentially encounter. SPX will continue to monitor the pandemic and implement the best plan to combat the spread of COVID-19 within their school community given the advice from local and state government leaders and CDC.  The items listed above reflects the care and commitment the school has to their children regarding their health, emotional well-being, and their academic progress. 

Leave us a comment below or schedule an appointment with an Amerigo Global Manager to start your journey to U.S. high school education!