NEW ALBANY — A New Albany charter school is adapting its COVID-19 protocols with the goal of safely keeping school open.

As the community faces a surge in COVID-19 cases, Community Montessori in New Albany is moving to a new hybrid learning model, which started Monday and will last for the next two weeks. Students will still come to campus in some form, but they have been placed in different groups that will be on campus certain days each week while learning remotely the other days.

Barbara Burke Fondren, director of Community Montessori, said the school is taking a “proactive” approach “to keep as many kids on the campus as possible” and avoid a move to 100% remote learning.

Some kids will be on campus four days a week, while others will be on campus only one or two days a week, Fondren said. The school has a family support program aimed to help families that struggle with remote learning due to jobs or other factors, and this played a role in establishing the hybrid model.

“Our goal is to keep as many kids and staff on campus on any given day, so we’re trying to do typical school as much as we can,” she said. “Even with the kids coming one day a week on campus, the staff will really work with them personally to make plans for when they’re off-campus.”

The school is encouraging students to be in school at least one day a week, but there are some families who are keeping kids at home for remote learning right now, Fondren said.

In addition to the new hybrid model, the school will offer a drive-thru testing site for students starting Wednesday. The PCR testing site in the school’s parking lot will be administered by Midwest Coordination Center.

The site will allow students to receive rest results in 24 to 48 hours, Fondren said. It is available Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 9:15 a.m. for students ages 5 and older who are symptomatic or were identified as a close contact.

Over winter break, the school ordered a large number of extra KN95 masks for all staff members. Community Montessori encourages families to buy high quality masks for students, and there are some KN95 masks available for students if needed.

The new hybrid plan was developed in coordination with the staff COVID-19 committee, which includes about 29 staff members.

“We just have to have grace with one another,” Fondren said. “This is hard for everybody. Nobody wants to be doing this, and I know staff didn’t want to spend a dozen hours creating a new hybrid plan. We all want regular school, but we know hospitals are struggling, and we have to think broader right now.”

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