Coupeville Middle School students are returning to campus, but not for class

Students in grades 6-8 will return to campus on March 8 in the afternoons for two days a week.

Coupeville Middle School students will be allowed to return to school buildings next week after almost a year away, but their schedules will not look like a normal school day.

Superintendent Steve King announced last week that students in grades 6-8 would be able to return to campus on March 8.

About 70 percent of students have elected to come back to campus while the rest have decided to continue distance learning at home, according to Coupeville Middle and High School Principal Geoff Kappes.

The hybrid in-person class schedule has all students begin the school day with distance learning from 8:00 – 10:30 a.m.

After lunch, half of the school’s students will come to school two days a week to get support from a teacher from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Those whose groups are not in school will also be able to receive help from a teacher from 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., albeit virtually.

Students will stay in one classroom with one teacher during the time they are on campus in an effort to limit the number of contacts students and teachers have in a day.

Although the students will be working on assignments for multiple classes, Kappes said one teacher will be able to help them organize and prioritize work or communicate with other teachers. Classes max out at 15 but will likely be smaller, he added.

“This support time will not be just a study hall,” Kappes said.

“This is time with a certified teacher who will assist each student individually in a small group setting. They will answer questions, re-teach topics, and contact other teachers to provide individual assistance.”

With this schedule, Kappes said the school would be able to use its current teachers and not need substitute teachers.

“While it won’t look like ‘normal’ school, it is the most effective use of our resources and will result in improved achievement for all of our students,” he said.

School leaders wanted to keep as many courses available as possible, and Kappes said that in-person classes would have meant some classes would be eliminated.

“For as small a school as we are, I am proud of the number of courses we offer. If students couldn’t come to the actual school building, at least they could take the classes they wanted,” Kappes said.

He told school board members last week that the school offers 60 courses taught by 23 content teachers.

Teachers conduct multiple classes, Kappes said, and some teach in both the middle and high schools. Students will be in a classroom with one of the teachers they know.

The schedule will also continue the same support for those students who choose to stick with distance learning that they have been receiving, he said.

Students will be grouped in alphabetical order.

The schedule will look similar for high school students, who are projected to return to campus later this month.

Elementary school students began attending hybrid in-person classes in February with students split between morning and afternoon sessions.

Kindergarten students, special needs students and those struggling with online learning had attended in-person classes in November and came back again in mid-January.