If your school district is one of the thousands across the country poised to return to some level of in-person learning in the next few weeks, you might be wondering what a part-time return to school looks like. Especially for families who have been physically distanced from school since last March, it may be hard to imagine how a hybrid model for learning will work. Relative to education, the term “hybrid” is used to describe a mixed schedule of in-person and online learning. For most districts, a hybrid schedule is based on a complex matrix to optimize in-person learning opportunities while adhering to COVID guidelines to appropriately protect students, teachers and support people at school. Based on the questions and concerns we’re hearing from parents, we’ve created a quick guide to help you prepare for hybrid learning. 1. Assess whether in-person learning works for you and your family. Many families are grappling with the decision of whether their student should return to school, even part-time. Some parents are worried about compromising the health of vulnerable members of their family. The CDC has information and guidelines to help you assess what can be a tough decision. Other families have discovered their students are thriving in a remote learning setting. Talk about a silver lining! If your student wants to continue with full-time online learning, you have the opportunity to compare the programs offered by your district and private online schools like ALVS. 2. Be flexible, adaptable, and patient. “Who moved my cheese?” Many parents and students have had to manage their disappointment when plans for re-opening their schools change. If you’ve been helping your student with 100% at-home, online learning for more than ten months now, it can feel like the finish line keeps moving. Hang in there and remember everyone is doing their very best to educate our students while keeping our communities safe. Understand that school administrators are working tirelessly behind the scenes to coordinate not only with their teachers, but also with local and state government agencies including health departments and teachers’ unions. 3. Make communication a priority. When your principal sends an online survey right now, it means they value your feedback as stakeholder in your student’s education. The 5-10 minutes it takes you to answer the thoughtful questions they are asking helps your school leaders be nimble in their planning for serving all students, including your own. Because they feel distanced and sometimes helpless right now, our teachers are eager for communication from their students and parents. However, the most productive communication is respectful, concise, and conveys gratitude. Remember that your student is one of many your teacher is trying to support from afar. 4. Do your homework. Take the time to read the detailed plans from your school for re-opening with a hybrid model. These detailed communications include important information that will help you and your student be prepared for a part-time return to school, including guidelines for wearing masks, social distancing, passing in hallways, eating lunch, and hygiene. Understand how attendance will be taken for both in-person and virtual learning, what the grading models are, and what is expected from you and your student. 5. Prepare your student. Now that you’ve done your homework, help your student understand that their return to school part-time in the next few weeks will be very different from the full-time, in-person learning experience they had prior to the pandemic. Based on the details you have from your school, encourage your student to talk about their concerns, and together, make a plan for how to fully embrace hybrid learning. This could be something as simple and reassuring as helping them pick out face masks that help them express their individual style and putting a personal-sized hand sanitizer in their backpack. 6. Rely on robust resources. Lean on your school leaders for support. School counselors are eager to connect with their students, now more than ever, and can be a great source of outside adult support for kids who are navigating a challenging time. If your student has an IEP, make sure you’re taking full advantage of available resources. In many districts, this can equate to free, one-on-one tutoring for students who need extra support, usually through a student resource center with multiple counselors and educators. 7. Identify opportunities to expand your student’s learning. Is your student thriving in an online learning environment? If so, making sure they have a robust curriculum that is challenging them might be your next step. Or maybe your student has learning gaps that are getting wider during distance learning, and a self-paced, online tutorial could help them catch up. And other students might love to have access to an elective-style course like art, computer programming, or a world language. What are your dreams for your student? We’re here to help.