Spotswood superintendent explains hybrid instruction statistics

Spotswood High School sign

SPOTSWOOD–On the first day back from winter break, Superintendent Graham Peabody updated the Board of Education about students’ hybrid schedule and attendance.

Beginning its first school day of the New Year on Jan. 19, Peabody said the district relaunched its hybrid instruction schedule where students were placed into Cohort A or Cohort B.

“Our population is divided into two groups A and B, with each cohort currently attending … in-person instruction twice a week,” he said.
Peabody said students in Cohort A will attend school in person on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; students in Cohort B will attend school on Thursdays and Fridays.
Using Google Sheets software, Peabody explained to the board current student population numbers and students’ hybrid instruction attendance at each school during the board meeting via video conference on Jan. 19.
Currently, Peabody said Spotswood High School has 692 total students, and 146 are registered for Cohort A; however, on Jan. 19, 97 students were in attendance.
Peabody said 166 students were registered for Cohort B.
“Our total hybrid community at this point represents 44% of our total population, so that means the majority 56% of our students currently are indicating that they desire to be virtual,” Peabody said. “Then if you look at the actual Cohort A, the 146 that are scheduled for that they’ve selected hybrid, that is 21% of our total population, and Cohort B is 24% of our population.”
For Memorial Middle School, Peabody said of the total student population of 344, 87 have registered for Cohort A. Out of the 87 students only 68 students were in attendance on Jan. 19.
Peabody said 90 students are in Cohort B, making the total Memorial Middle School hybrid population 51%.
Moving on to E.R. Appleby Elementary School, Peabody said the total student population is 333, with 102 students registered in Cohort A and 108 students registered in Cohort B. Out of the 102 students registered in Cohort A, 75 were in attendance on Jan. 19. The school’s total hybrid student population is 62%.
At G. Austin Schoenly Elementary School, Peabody said the total student population is 213, with 85 students registered in Cohort A and 87 students registered in Cohort B. Out of the 85 students registered in Cohort A, 72 were in attendance. The school’s total hybrid student population is 63%.
“[On Jan. 19] the entry went very smoothly, probably based on our experience with entering back on Oct. 26, 2020, for our students, for parents, for staff,” Peabody said. “It really went very well this morning without a hiccup so I want to thank everybody involved. Obviously our administrators our staff, our parents, and our students for making that happen, and making that possible.”
Now that school is back in session, Peabody said for the hybrid instruction the district will post a weekly internal school case report, in terms of staff and students who are positive, and then staff and students who are close contacts.
“We will be adding presumed positives to that close contact category and new symptoms or symptomatic. Also we’ll have two categories: positive on its own and then everything else, close contact version positive and new symptoms in another column,” Peabody said.
Updating the board and the public on the district’s current COVID-19 cases, Peabody said the district has one staff member who is positive and six who are close contacts who are presumed positives. The district has zero students who are positive but has 11 who are either close contacts presumed positive or showing COVID-19 symptoms.
During the board’s public comment portion, resident Eileen Cella asked Peabody if social distance protocols in the schools’ classrooms, such as using hand sanitizer with the children, washing hands, and/or keeping students a safe distance from one another, are being done.
“I can give you things in general but for the specific classroom if you reach out to the principal, they’ll be able to give you a snapshot of exactly what is happening in the different classrooms,” Peabody said. “So we have a screening form, [and] we have temperature checks. For students, obviously, we have sanitizer wipes and at all of our classrooms students are given time to wash their hands to sanitize, and our custodial staff is working throughout the buildings, doubling down on touch points.”
Resident Jim Shearn asked Peabody that since the district closed the schools’ gyms, can the district revisit its plan and offer something more physically active for the students.
Despite school social distancing protocols constantly being changed by the state, Peabody said he would look into this idea, see what the district can come up with, and return with an answer.

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Contact Vashti Harris at [email protected].