Students and parents hope to change to four day schedule

Kris Long, Sports Editor

With the potential for USD 383 to move from hybrid to a four-day week, the district expects many students and families will wish to change learning models before semester. But, is that possible? 

The short answer is no. When the district allowed families to choose between remote and hybrid over the summer, they made it clear this was the choice for the semester, and there was reasoning behind that.

The first conflict is scheduling. Elective opportunities vary from remote to hybrid, due to a lower number of students and teachers in the remote setting and for practical reasons. Remote welding classes are potentially dangerous. This poses a problem because student’s aren’t able to simply transfer into a remote or hybrid version of their current classes, and switching classes well into the semester isn’t feasible. 

“It’s a conversation still, but likely no [students will not be allowed to switch],” Director of Teaching and Learning Paula Hough said. “[Electives] may not transfer to that other learning environment. So if you’re in some of these classes, they may not be available to you as a remote student. So three fourths of the way through a high school semester. What do we do with that?”

Some students were allowed to transfer earlier in the semester, and they have faced the problems USD 383 expects if students try to switch now on a smaller scale. 

“Performing arts didn’t have as many opportunities [in remote]. I was able to do pep band by switching over to hybrid and also actually sing in through a mask in the auditorium,” said junior Hayden Holmberg, who switched three weeks into the year. “I am behind in a few classes, but I have been catching up. And I’ll get there eventually.”

There are a few circumstances in which students may be allowed to change if the district switches to a four-day week on Nov. 2. 

“Extenuating health concerns, if they have someone living within the house, that has something that makes them more vulnerable and medically fragile. Those circumstances, they’re not ours to say no to,” Hough said. “Coming back on site is a different story, we’re able to accommodate that more easily. So if a student isn’t finding success with a remote school, it is easier for us to bring them back on campus than the opposite.”

They also aren’t prepared to have a large shift of students from one side to another, as they won’t have enough resources allocated to whichever model students are moving to. Hough cited Lawrence public schools, which were set to reopen in hybrid last Monday but had to back out at the last minute because an unexpected amount of families chose remote. 

“We want to avoid that,” Hough said. “And so now, it will be a semester thing so that we can make sure we have enough teachers. We need to do it safely.”

Those wanting to switch can submit the Student Instructional Preference Change Form, located on the USD 383 website. 

The requests to change model have slowed down for the most part since the beginning of the school year but are expected to pick back up if the district decides to go ahead with plans to partially reopen on Nov. 2. 

“Some families don’t want their students or their students with so many other students. So there’s that initial gut reaction of ‘we need to go remote’,” said Hough. “And then the opposite, we have the remote families [think], ‘okay, we’re going back to semi-normal four days a week. I want my kid in that.’ So I’m not sure exactly what it will be if they’ll balance out.”

It’s expected that, though the majority of students will not be able to switch in November, many will do so at semester. According to the parent survey the figure sits at about 10% but is approximately equal with students who want to go remote from hybrid and vice versa meaning schedules should not be skewed significantly. If a significant number of students move from one side to another, the possibility of schedule changes due to some teachers being moved online or onsite is apparent. However, students shouldn’t expect any drastic changes. Year-long and common semester classes should all be continued as planned. 

“There may be some shifting. I suspect that our students and teachers will feel that some changes have been made,” Dorst said. “As for a complete overhaul, I do not see that happening… I think somebody will know somebody who teaches differently, or somebody is going to know somebody whose student’s schedule was changed, [but] complete, everybody changed, no.”