Kalamazoo Public Schools decides whether to transition to a hybrid schedule for the third trimester of the 20-21 school year


Credit: Alexandra Koch

If KPS decides to go hybrid for the last trimester of the 20-21 school year this will be the first time students will be in schools since March of last year.

Lilly MacInnis, Photo Editor/Social Media Team

Kalamazoo Public Schools decides whether to transition to a hybrid schedule for the third trimester of the 20-21 school year

On February 11th, 2021 Superintendent Raichoudhuri will deliver the decision on whether Kalamazoo Public Schools will remain virtual or turn to a hybrid schedule for the last trimester of the school year.
This decision will be determined by a weighted formula made up of nine points. Two going to research, three going to Kalamazoo County Health Data, two going to a parent survey, one going to a teacher survey and the final point going to a survey of non-teaching staff. This means that four out of the nine points that determine this decision are decided by a survey of the people directly affected.
On the Kalamazoo Public Schools website, there is a detailed powerpoint as well as a video going over their plan on how hybrid school would work. It has been decided that if KPS chooses to go hybrid next trimester, half of the students in each school building will go for a traditional school day for the first two days of the week (group A) while the other half (group B) will participate in asynchronous learning time not supervised by a teacher.
This will switch for the last two days of the week, and on Wednesdays group A and group B will meet with their teachers online for a day of virtual school. School will start and end at the same time it did before the pandemic, elementary from 8:50 to 3:50, and middle and high school from 7:33 to 2:20, with the exception of Wednesdays.
For more information about the individual schedules of elementary, middle, and highschool visit this page that has detailed slides on each school week.
KPS has many adjustments in their school buildings to promote health and safety in the case that the last trimester will be hybrid. Surfaces that are frequently touched, such as bathrooms, light switches, and doors will be cleaned every four hours. High school and middle school desks will be wiped down after every class period, while elementary desks will be wiped down twice a day.
A bipolar ionization system will be installed in all schools before students return. According to Business Insider, “The technology utilizes specialized tubes that take oxygen molecules from the air and convert them into charged atoms that then cluster around microparticles, surrounding and deactivating harmful substances like airborne mold, bacteria, allergens, and viruses”. These systems are used in hospitals to fight the spread of dangerous airborne illnesses.
There will also be new protocols set in place to promote health and safety. All staff and students will be required to wear masks at all times except when eating. K-5 students, if they have no close contact with other students and are with the same class all day, may remove their masks.
Social distancing will be enforced, and all desks will be six feet apart when possible. Movement between classes will be staggered to help enforce social distancing. Meals will be in classrooms or staggered in cafeterias. Family members and guests will not be allowed in schools except for certain circumstances, and will be screened for symptoms. Windows will be open for as much time as possible, and schools will also be ventilated for three hours after and prior to the school day. A quarantine area will be set up in every school. KPS officials hope these new protocols will help keep students and staff safe if the hybrid schedule is chosen.
If KPS transitions to a hybrid schedule third trimester, families that chose to remain virtual all year with option 2 will be able to move to option 1, if there is availability. Option 1 allows for students to come back for in-person school. Families will have to complete a request by February 21st and will be notified if they are able to switch or not.
If you are a parent or staff working in a KPS building, you are able to fill out a survey that will directly contribute to this decision. Check your email for a link, or if you are a parent this page will have a link to your survey. The survey will remain open until midnight February 7th.