On April 19, Portland Public Schools (PPS) opened hybrid learning classes to middle and high school students for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, aiming to fully reopen by next fall. Our hybrid schedule used the asynchronous class periods as live periods in the afternoon, following an almost entirely online 2020-21 school year at Franklin.

One of the largest questions moving into hybrid learning was how in-person learning would solve the problems that most students are facing online. This May, the school board voted unanimously to return to full time in-person learning this fall. There will be an option for virtual learning as well next year, with details yet to come.

 “I have just been told we are going to blaze forward for next year,” Franklin teacher Megan Whisnand says. It seems that with such a large announcement being made by the Board, teachers should be informed of new developments before the students, but that is often not the case for PPS. “I sometimes have to wait a while for information to reach my email, and sometimes I get it pretty fast,” Ms. Whisnand explains. Teachers have struggled to plan their curriculum due to lack of prep time and uncertainty of decision making but it’s obvious that many teachers, like Whisnand, will do their best to keep kids feeling safe with the return to the building full-time next year.

The current plan for next year consists of an eight-class schedule all year, with every effort to return to normalcy. “The [school] board shared how next year will try to look as similar as what last year looked like, before the virus,” says Whisnand. This was discussed in the recent announcement made, when School Board member Andrew Scott stated, “I sure hope it looks like normal school, that would be the best outcome as we move forward” (as quoted by KGW).

“I think the best thing for us is to be flexible with the Board’s announcements, because it’s part of our job to be,” Whisnand explains. According to Whisnand, a proposed new schedule for next year might contain a different week than in previous years, with the possibility of Fridays containing all 8 periods. Being on a computer all day has affected kids and teachers alike, physically, mentally and emotionally, so the next year is going to be a breath of fresh air for the students and teachers of Franklin High School.

An empty Franklin High School on an Asynchronous Wednesday (photo by Joseph Howitt)
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