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Many Models of Middle School

Hybrid, 100% eLearning, cohorts, in-person, full-time, split classrooms: Somers Middle School has it all in this pandemic learning environment.

"It's definitely different from how it is normally," says seventh-grader Carolina Gonzalez, "But I like it better than I thought I would."

Sixth-graders attend school in-person every day. They are grouped into small cohorts that stay in the same classroom all day. Cohorts were formed based on a number of factors, mainly a student's choice of world language. In between classes, it is the teachers and teaching assistants who walk the halls, rather than students.

"There is some movement of students during the day," says Principal Jeff Getman, "But we've tried to avoid that as much as possible to limit exposure."

Teaching these small cohorts is tricky. For example, a science class taught by Joe Savastano is split between two classrooms, staffed by Savastano and a teaching assistant. The students who have opted for 100% eLearning Zoom in from home. Savastano delivers lessons to the students in his room, while broadcasting to the students across the hall and the eLearners. Then with the help of the teaching assistant, he walks between the two classrooms to work with the students.Seventh and eighth grade are using the hybrid model - some days in school and some days Zooming in from home. One cohort attends in-person on Mondays and Wednesdays, the other on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with alternating Fridays. There are approximately 60 total 100% eLearners in seventh and eighth grade. It took a lot of planning and it took some getting used to, says Getman, but so far the students and teachers have proven themselves up to the challenge.