Students and teachers around the world have been forced to change their ideal image of back-to-school season. Now, in Darien, residents are learning what it will exactly look like.

DHS is Returning to School Differently than Expected

The Board of Education has adapted its original expectations for reopening, meaning students will now begin the year on a hybrid model.

August 18, 2020

The Board of Education decided in a meeting on August 10 that the Darien Public Schools will return to the classroom via a hybrid learning model.

Connecticut has been faring well as states continue to reopen and return to normalcy. With Fairfield Country recording only a 1.4% test positivity rate, many Darien residents have been eager to send students back to school.

“The administrative team has been working hard throughout the summer to develop plans for each of the required instructional models,” said Darien High School Assistant Principal Ms. Kate Dimoulas. “Our number one priority,” she said, “has been the wellbeing of our DHS family.”

An original reopening plan, released on July 25, proposed a full in-person return to the classroom and prepared a bare-bones outline for both hybrid and remote learning. Now, a hybrid model will be followed until September 29, after which an in-person return is expected. Superintendent Dr. Alan Addley said in Monday’s meeting that this will grant the district the opportunity to “test some systems.”

The DHS Hybrid Plan functions off of an A/B rotation schedule where all students will learn remotely on Fridays to allow for cleaning and professional development. In order to ensure social distancing and safety, students will attend school in alphabetical cohorts. Students with last names A-K (the “Blue” group) will learn in-person on Monday and Tuesday, followed by L-Z (the “Wave” group) on Wednesday and Thursday. Students learning remotely will attend via live streaming and/or Zoom meetings.

Our masks will never be able to hide the smiles in our eyes as we celebrate the beginning of the 2020-21 school year!”

— Principal Ellen Dunn

DHS Students will attend four 85-minute classes per school day, a change from the previous schedule of seven 48-minute classes. Passing time has been extended to 10 minutes and hallways will move in one direction only. In the classroom, desks will all face forward at 3 feet apart, and face coverings will be worn at all times. During passing-time, students will be allowed to take a “mask break” outside if they have time between classes and can maintain 6 feet of distance from others.

“While the hybrid model may present unique challenges,” said Ms. Dimoulas, “I know that the decision to start in hybrid puts a safe start to the school year at the forefront.”

DHS has also adopted some new policies in order to limit the capacity of the building. Students with parental permission will enjoy “Open Ends,” allowing them to arrive for their first class and leave after their last, and seniors who have their entire lunch period free will also be allowed to leave campus.

The DPS Calendar has been adapted to begin with two half-days where all periods will meet on September 3 and 4.  The “Blue” group will attend on September 3 and the “Wave” group will attend on September 4. A virtual orientation for Freshmen and new students will take place on September 2, and they will soon have access to an orientation website, where information and resources regarding the transition to high school, academics, clubs, sports, and more will be available.

“There will be challenges to overcome, and our Blue Wave Pride will light the way,” said Principal Ms. Ellen Dunn in an e-mail to students. “Your love for learning, laughter, and spirit have been missed at DHS, and our masks will never be able to hide the smiles in our eyes as we celebrate the beginning of the 2020-21 school year!”


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