Indian River schools: Hybrid learning plan to continue through Dec. 18, then move to virtual

The Indian River School District will partially follow the governor’s recommendation that schools temporarily move to 100% virtual learning. 

The district board of education held an emergency meeting Dec. 4, during which Superintendent Jay Owens’ new plan was unanimously approved by the board. 

While Gov. Carney recommended schools switch to virtual learning starting Dec. 14, Indian River will continue with its hybrid learning plan through Dec. 18. On Dec. 21 and 22, previously scheduled in-person days, students will learn remotely. 

More:Cape Henlopen School District will stick with in-person instruction

Indian River’s Christmas break is Dec. 23 through Jan. 3. 

Students will learn virtually Jan. 4-8 “to prevent any spread that may occur after spending time with our family and friends during the break,” Owens said.  

Pending principal approval, teachers will have the option to work remotely on the new virtual learning days, as well as Dec. 23, which was scheduled as a “teacher work day.”  

Hybrid learning will resume Jan. 11. 

Since September, 56 Indian River students and 45 staff have tested positive for COVID-19, out of 7,475 students who have elected to participate in the hybrid model and over 1,500 staff, according to Owens.  

More:More school districts to go fully virtual after Delaware's latest COVID-19 advisory

“We’ve had to quarantine classes from time to time … but we’ve not had to close any schools,” Owens said. 

Board President Rodney Layfield has been a continuous supporter of in-person learning. He said during the meeting that in 2019, at one district high school, there were 450 failing students in the first marking period. This year, Layfield said, there are 2,609. 

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“We’re failing our students, we’re failing our society by closing it up,” he said. “I think everybody would agree that the opportunity is there, for the students and parents, if they want to, to do remote learning.” 

Sussex Central High School Principal Bradley Layfield told The News Journal the failure rate is larger than he’s ever seen in his 10 years as an administrator.

According to a press release from the district, fall sports will continue as scheduled through the conclusion of all state tournaments. Winter sports competitions are prohibited Dec. 14 through Jan. 11, but practices may continue under strict COVID-19 masking and social distancing guidelines.