January and February are a success for hybrid learning at Hardyston Township Schools, which is seeing an increase in student attendance on campus, according to Mike Ryder, chief school administrator.
Hardyston splits its student population into two groups, Cohort Blue and Cohort Gold, to make classes smaller and enable social distancing. Ryder said this is necessary especially for Hardyston, which has a bigger student population than surrounding districts.
In addition, he said, Hardyston has more elementary students on campus than other districts. The percentage of elementary students that attend school virtually is 15%, which may be the lowest percentage in Sussex County, he said.
The Blue Cohort attends in person on Monday and Tuesday. The Gold Cohort attends in person on Thursday and Friday. All students attend school virtually when they are not on campus.
Hardyston offers synchronous instruction, in which teachers teach in person and virtually at the same time.
“Teaching in that manner is incredibly challenging for teachers, but they understand that increasing teacher/student contact is an absolute necessity for quality instruction,” Ryder said. “All educators, teachers and administrators included, are doing things they have never done before.”
All parents may choose whether their children attend school in person or virtually. “We provide tremendous flexibility to parents if they change their mind at any step of the way,” said Ryder.
The Sussex County Superintendents’ Roundtable Association have been meeting more frequently than their usual monthly meeting because of the pandemic, in order to keep on top of all the new information always coming at them.
“We have been told by the Department of Education that Sussex County schools are leaders in the state in having in-person and hybrid instruction,” said Ryder. “All Sussex County schools have in-person offerings. We are doing amazing things in this county. No plan is perfect, but all schools are aligned in the ultimate goal of getting all children back in school as soon as possible.”