Pentwater to begin school year with hybrid learning approach.

August 18, 2020

Pentwater to begin school year with hybrid learning approach.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

PENTWATER — As districts prepare for the start of the 2020-2021 school year in the midst of COVID-19, Pentwater is taking a hybrid approach — meaning learning will be done both face-to-face and remotely.

Most other area schools are planning to offer face-to face instruction five days a week with an option to do remote learning.

The small Pentwater district of 270 students will be divided into two groups — A and B. Group A will do face-to-face learning Monday and Tuesday, while Group B stays at home and performs virtual learning. Then on Thursday and Friday, Group B will do face-to-face learning while Group A learns remotely. On Wednesday, all students will do remote learning while the school is thoroughly sanitized.

Pentwater families can also opt to have 100 percent remote instruction.

“We will be working over the next couple of weeks creating the groupings and giving students with siblings the option to all attend on the same days,” said Superintendent/Principal Scott Karaptian.

“We also understand that remote learning may be a challenge for some students due to connectivity and WiFi issues, and we will work with each family individually to find a technology solution that will work best for your student or students.”

Students with WiFi issues at home will be able to upload all the necessary documents they need for the entire week during the two days they are in school, Karaptian said. Flash drives will also be available for students to work offline. The district will also provide families with a list of local places with Internet access where students can work, such as the library and churches.

“We know that these are very difficult times, and there is no solution that will work best for every student and/or family. We take our duties and responsibilities seriously in providing what we believe will be the best and safest educational opportunity for our students and staff. Through the blended/hybrid learning option, we will be able to reduce our student population in the building by half, allowing us to have much smaller class sizes, making transportation spacing easier, as well as allowing students safer spacing in the cafeteria, playgrounds and hallways.”

Average class sizes at Pentwater are currently 18-20 students. With the blended format, class sizes will be about 8-10 students, Karaptian said.

The plan was adopted by the school board last week, and surveys were completed by staff and families, the superintendent said.

The format will be routinely re-evaluated to determine its effectiveness and whether the State of Michigan moves up or down a phase in its re-opening process. If Michigan moves back to Phase 3, then it will be easier for Pentwater students to return to 100 percent remote learning. If Michigan moves up to Phase 5, then Pentwater students can easily transition to 100 percent face-to-face learning. “We’ll be ready for whatever happens,” he said.

Students at Pentwater in grades 3-12 are already equipped with Chrome Books, and the school will purchase new devices for the younger grades, he said.

“It still allows us to have face-to-face instruction while having a safe learning environment. We think it’s the best of the options available. One hundred percent in person is the ideal format, but in a COVID climate, we need a clean, safe environment.”

Pentwater’s first day of school is a half day Sept. 8.

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