On Monday, December 14, the IACS Board of Trustees voted with a 6-2 margin to move the date for the transition to the hybrid model from January 4, 2021, to January 19, 2021.
Head of School Greg Orpen recommended the delay “to offer more of a buffer from activities over vacation to a return of a cohort of students and staff.” He cited the spike in COVID-19 cases after Thanksgiving as an example of what could happen over the holidays, where there is the most social contact.
Board Chair Matt Lowe agreed with the delay, saying, “the proposal strikes a balance between different viewpoints,” referencing groups who want an immediate switch to an in-person or hybrid model and those who would rather an even further delay.
Board Member Pat Donahue disagreed with delaying the transition, saying, “I think that we are conflating what is happening in the general population to what is happening in schools. The data that I’m looking at suggests that spikes [in the general population] do not correlate with what happens at schools,” and that the data shows “there is not a significant increase in in-school transmissions.” He felt that the proposal was “moving the goalposts and not looking at the data.”
According to Orpen, while “an increase in infections over break would be hard to identify, any infections that happen over that time [break] will have time to quarantine.”
Board Vice Chair Erin Attfield Quinlan felt that there should be no further delays to transitioning to a hybrid learning model, saying, “I think that we should get kids back in school. There’s always going to be some evidence that will keep on telling us to push [the date] out… The best place for kids to learn is school.” She also addressed the struggles some families face, where some “parents can’t juggle work and kids at home.”
While a return to school would be ideal, Board Members Subhashish Acharya and Angela Griswold felt that safety needed to be prioritized. Acharya focused on the health of the teachers, saying, “We need to be cognisant of the teachers’ health. School runs because of teachers. The remote learning may not be as good, but we want the teachers to be healthy so the education continues.”
Barring any further changes, students should expect to be in a hybrid learning environment on Tuesday, January 19, 2021.