NH task force: Concerns over social distancing, hybrid learning

Published: Jun. 23, 2020 at 6:44 PM EDT
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Many parents, teachers and education officials are anxious for students to get back to school this fall, but there’s a lot of concern about achieving social distancing and workable hybrid learning plans, a New Hampshire education task force acknowledged Tuesday.

The School Transition Reopening and Redesign Taskforce plans to issue 10 preliminary recommendations by June 30 to the state. The group got through questions and suggestions on the first half, which deal with establishing district and school management communications plans; determining public health protocols; preparing the school environment; supporting student, family and educator wellness; and establishing hybrid learning capacity.

Task force members recognized that it’s very difficult for students to social distance and that guidelines may work for one district, but not another.

“We could write all the recommendations in the world, but kids are going to do what kids are going to do,” said member Phil Nazarro of the New Hampshire State Board of Education.

Students also have mixed feelings about whether the wearing of personal protective equipment, such as masks, should be forced on them, said student representative Ben Lambright.

Members also expressed concern about teachers’ workload and well-being over balancing classes in school with remote learning. Member Keith Noyes, a teacher, said colleagues with young children of their own would be in “crisis mode” trying to follow a schedule where students are alternating days at home and school.

NEA-New Hampshire President Megan Tuttle issued a statement afterward saying the association is concerned that the recommendations “do not go far enough to protect the health of our students and staff."

“We watched in disbelief as the slide containing the recommendation for public health protocols listed ‘consider CDC guidance’ as the official recommendation," Tuttle wrote, adding that face coverings, PPE, and social distancing are precautions that have proven to be effective in preventing the spread of the virus.

Other working recommendations for the the task force involve transportation policies; school meal delivery plans; planning for instruction; professional development considerations; and technology considerations for dynamic learning environments.

(Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

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