About 60 people, including the Champlain Valley School Board, administrators, educators and the public, attended the board’s Zoom meeting on Tuesday, July 21.

This would have been a big attendance for a summer meeting in normal times sans COVID-19.

Listeners heard the news that, in the fall, Champlain Valley School District students will head back to school following a hybrid schedule, combining in-school and remote learning, as described by Superintendent Elaine Pinckney.

At an earlier board meeting, she had said they were working to have kindergarten through fourth grade students attend school in person every day and have fifth through twelfth grade students starting the school year in a hybrid model.

But on Tuesday, Pinckney said the decision had been made – this was not a safe choice for the younger students.

Despite looking at options like removing furniture from classrooms, school officials have determined there is no way to maintain the 6-foot distance between younger students that health officials recommend, she said.

“Number one is the safety of our kids – that’s paramount. That’s the thing that we care about the most. And number two, we know they need that social interaction,” Pinckney said.

“The recommendation that will be coming out from the regional superintendents later this week will have us be fully hybrid K-12,” Pinckney said.

The details are still being discussed, but right now, it looks like half of the kindergarten through eighth grade students will go to school for in-person instruction on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Wednesdays will be a fully remote day for teacher planning, professional development and callback for student intervention.

On Thursdays and Fridays the other half of the school will attend school in-person.

“We will also be working on a fully remote model, and that fully remote model will be a regionalized homeschooling opportunity,” Pinckney said.

Students will be attending school wearing masks. Their temperatures will be taken, and their health will be evaluated each morning before they enter their school.

Parents will be able to do the temperature and health evaluations and submit them for their children.

Students will also have assigned seats, Pinckney said.

Champlain Valley Union High School Principal Adam Bunting said his students will be divided into two groups.

Group 1 will attend school on Mondays and Thursdays and Group 2 will go for in-school instruction on Tuesdays and Fridays.

All will have synchronous remote learning on Wednesdays, so students will be attending remote classes simultaneously with their classmates in real time.

On the two days that students are not in school, they will learning on their own time, Bunting said.

Bunting and other administrators talked about how important it is for students to be back in school because in-person relationships are important to the learning process.

During the spring there was an interesting population of CVU students who were more engaged by remote learning. Although it was a small number, it was a surprise, Bunting said.

“Most of our sports will be available, maybe in different ways,” he said.

“Whatever happened in the spring, what happens in the fall will be a thousand times better,” Pinckney said.

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