Taking a look back: Hybrid learning at New Market Middle School this past fall

Desks+at+NMMS+spread+6+feet+apart+to+keep+students+socially+distanced.+

Abbey Sovero

Desks at NMMS spread 6 feet apart to keep students socially distanced.

by Abbey Sovero, Reporter

The short URL of the present article is: https://lhslance.org/8hjte

In Fall 2020, New Market Middle, like other schools in the county, hosted a small group of students who needed more in-person learning. 

Although hybrid learning/small groups were fairly successful this fall, they were suspended the week after the winter holiday, due to increasing coronavirus numbers in Frederick County. 

Many people right now are hopeful that hybrid learning, scheduled to begin fully mid-February, will be successful. Will it be able to happen with the pandemic still so deadly and risky? Instead of worrying about the unknown future, let’s take a look at how the small taste of hybrid learning went during the fall. 

For New Market Middle, the students came into school every Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, from 12:45-3:00 p.m. When the students were in the building, the staff worked with them in small groups, helping with their assignments, and providing additional support in understanding concepts taught during synchronous classes. They followed all of the CDC and local guidelines.

“Hybrid learning this fall went okay. It was not ideal, but some kids really do need to be in-person to get help and to be able to pay attention,” said Jen Dotson, an Instructional Assistant at New Market Middle.

Being able to effectively teach and learn during this pandemic has been hard for everyone-parents, teachers and students. How well students are learning, is a question that has been weighing on many teachers this year. Some students have been doing better online, as they learn better working independently, and doing things on their own. Other students really need that face-to-face time with their teachers in the classroom. 

“Hybrid has definitely helped more students stay engaged than before, but it’s still just not the same as if we were actually in the classroom and everything was normal. It really just depends on the student and their capabilities,” said Kenda Sovero, the resident substitute at New Market Middle.

Another issue with hybrid learning that staff, students, and parents alike have been facing is preparing emotionally. Is it safe? For New Market Middle, their fall success helps everyone to feel more prepared for the future.

“New Market has done a lot to try to keep everyone safe and healthy,” said Sovero.

Some of the precautions taken at all schools will be 

  • Everyone uses hand sanitizer arriving and exiting the building
  • Desks are spread 6 feet apart 
  • Students must stay at their desk (can’t wander around the classroom) 
  • Everyone must wear a mask
  • Every student has their own school supplies (their own pencils, calculator, etc) 
  • Everything is sanitized after students leave every day  
  • Hallways are one way 
  • Limited people in the bathroom 
A photo of New Market’s one way staircase- to keep distance from others and help keep everyone safe. (Abbey Sovero)

“As a staff member I’m not super worried about the ‘getting covid’ aspect of hybrid. It obviously puts you at a higher risk, but I think our staff has done a very good job at keeping everything sanitary and safe for everyone,” said Dotson. 

A student at Linganore, Catherine Bowers, is planning on going back to school for hybrid learning this spring. 

“I signed up for hybrid because I think it will help me learn better, and I will do better in my classes. I am definitely worried about getting COVID, but I know [the staff at] Linganore will try their best to keep everyone safe. It will be interesting to see how it all is going to work,” said Bowers. 

“Not much else can really be improved in the physical environment. We’ve been doing the most we can do. One thing that teachers can do is to check their workload for students. Think about how much they are asking of these students to do, because sometimes it is too much,” said Dotson. 

With the opening of hybrid just weeks away, everyone is checking and double checking that all procedures are in place. Linganore students can learn more about the hybrid plan by visiting the school website or fcps.org.