USD 497 switching to 2-day hybrid schedule

Hybrid students will now go to school twice a week starting February 15th.


Cuyler Dunn

Students leave school for the day on Feb. 1. More students will be in the building starting Feb. 15 as the district allows hybrid students to attend in-person classes more days during the week.

By Cuyler Dunn, Assistant Online Editor

Lawrence High School will switch to a two-day hybrid schedule starting Feb. 15 to have students in person more often during the school week.

The new model will have students with last name A-K in person on Monday and Thursday, while students with last names L-Z will be in person on Tuesday and Friday. As well as hybrid model changes, Wednesdays are also changing. Wednesdays, when all students are remote, will now be workdays focused on giving students time to complete work and meet with teachers, rather than instructional time.

The new hybrid schedule will aim to increase students’ time with teachers, while still maintaining protocols to keep students safe.

“We are excited to improve the way in which we serve and support students by doubling their days on campus,” said Julie Boyle, executive director of communications in an email to families. “All current mitigation strategies will remain in place to provide safe learning environments.”

Hybrid students expressed positivity about the change, citing more time face to face with teachers as a key way to help student engagement.

“I think that the AB schedule is going to be very good for learning, as long as students can be kept safe,” said junior Aidan Zimney, who has taken part in the hybrid learning schedule that was fully phased in Nov. 9. “Being in person two days a week is going to help students that go back to school learn better with more time with teachers that isn’t through a screen.”

With the increased in-person presence, some worried about how that might affect students who have chosen to remain in entirely remote learning.

“I think that the AB schedule is good for in-person learning but I worry that it might leave some students that are at home behind if the lesson plans become more catered to the students that come in person,” Zimney said. “It will be very important to strike a balance between those two.”

Teachers expressed similar thoughts about how the new changes could affect students, both positively and negatively.

“I am excited for the AB hybrid schedule,” history teacher Rosemary Homeyer said. “I have seen more students already this semester, and it is wonderful having students back in the classroom. Some students are actually excelling in remote. Others are really struggling. This is not a one-size-fits-all model.”

Senior Ike Phillips has remained in remote learning for the entire school year but recognizes that for some, being in person is essential.

“Even though I’m staying home, it’s important to think about the people that rely on the resources the school provides,” he said. “Remote learning is not so practical for some families, so I’m glad they’ll get an opportunity to have more frequent in-person education.”

With the new schedule, there will be double the amount of students in the building each day, which raises concerns about a possible increase in COVID-19 transmission.

Even though Phillips believes that cases will likely rise due to the change, he believes getting students in for learning is key for many families.

“The numbers will probably go up,” he said, “but that’s just more reason to avoid exposure whenever possible. In-person school is essential to some people, but throwing parties and not taking proper safety precautions is just irresponsible.”

Other students expressed some concern about the new model and its effects on COVID-19 numbers but agreed that students in school are not as big a driver of cases as students meeting out of school.

“I absolutely worry about increased COVID cases,” Zimney said, “with more people at the school more often, the risk definitely goes up that people will get exposed to the virus. I also think that if the danger was higher that we wouldn’t be going back to school, so as long as everyone follows the guidelines and makes good decisions outside of school we should be alright.”

Homeyer had COVID-19 over the summer but believes that the work done to prevent spread in schools is sufficient to safely bring students into school more often.

“My hope is that we are moving in the right direction in terms of vaccine rollout and immunization,” she said, “and that we can have more students return to school. Yes, I am concerned about a possible increase in COVID cases, but we are being extremely careful at school.”

Along with the rollout of a new hybrid model, LHS is implementing work Wednesdays, which provide students with time to complete homework assignments. Teachers are instructed to not give out new content on Wednesdays with the exception of Advanced Placement and KU Blueprint classes.

“I think the Wednesday workdays are awesome,” Zimney said. “It gives students a chance to catch up on homework and review the material before their next class. I think that having the extra day to work is going to help a lot of people get better grades and relieve a lot of stress in an inherently stressful time.”

The change comes after Free State High School made a similar decision earlier in the year, and many LHS students called for something comparable at LHS.

While students have expressed positivity about the new schedule, some teachers are not on board with the change.

“First, the argument was that Free State has a ‘free Wednesday,’ so we should too,” Homeyer said. “We are not Free State. It is my belief that our students would benefit more from attending class on Wednesdays than having more free time. If we were in-person, the expectation would be that students attend class.”

Although it takes away lesson time, work Wednesdays provide a unique time for fully remote students to get much needed one on one time with their teachers, something that will become even more important with the new hybrid schedule.

“I really like the idea,” Philips said. “With remote learning, it’s a lot harder to find time to work with your teachers one on one. I think having a weekly opportunity to work through specific problems will be really valuable.”