To keep students safe, hybrid schedule is used

For one day, students allowed to Zoom in or drive in

On+the+morning+of+Feb.+18%2C+a+driver+navigates+the+traffic+circle+at+the+top+of+the+Hill.+

Jake Langdon

On the morning of Feb. 18, a driver navigates the traffic circle at the top of the Hill.

Jake Langdon, Videographer/Reporter

The snowstorm on Feb. 17 resulted in a first for this school year on the Hill: A hybrid schedule, with students both at home and on campus just for the day.

Principal Mrs. Julie Barthel outlined the process that was used to make this decision. She said, “(Director of transportation) Mr. (Greg) Bamrick said the Southside and the Eastside were very different than the Northside and the Westside, and we have kids coming from all of those areas.”

She added, “We’re different from a lot of schools where you usually have one area (where students live), so that’s what made me think, OK I think 80 to 90% are going to be fine, but I wanted to offer that for kids that couldn’t be safe driving in. That is why we implemented the eLearning option today as well.

Barthel and School President Dr. Robert Bridges have the ultimate say in the type of instruction students will receive, but they turn to both Bamrick and Mr. Rolly Landeros, the director of facilities, for input on the conditions both on and off campus.

Barthel said she takes into consideration the roads around campus, the roads for the bus routes and the state of the campus, meaning whether or not the snow is out of the parking spots and salt is on the sidewalks. She also took into consideration neighboring schools when deciding on the hybrid day saying, “Some schools around us, with Lawrence Township and Bishop Chatard being the main two, did eLearning. Since they went to eLearning, that made me think there may be streets and neighborhoods that our kids aren’t going to get out of, so I just felt like that was a good option.”

Not only did Lawrence Township and Bishop Chatard not conduct in-person classes on Feb. 17, but neither did Roncalli and Scecina high schools nor did Franklin Township and the Indianapolis Public Schools.

When making a decision, Barthel said, “Our deadline is usually 5:30. We want to know by 5:30 a.m., so with this snow in this case the other day, we called that the night before. It’s always better for people to know beforehand. We have teachers driving in from Bloomington, so we know people leave really early and need to know.”

She said “(Bamrick) has to get out around 4 a.m. and see the conditions of the roads.” 

Barthel cast doubt on the occurrence of a classic snow day in the future. She said, “We don’t have any snow days built in (to the school year calendar, because the (Indiana) Department of Education requires that we go 180 days. We would just be adding those days on at the end of the year, and our teachers have already gotten so proficient with eLearning and technology. I would never say never, but for the most part I think people would appreciate just going ahead and doing eLearning not having to make up a day at the end of the school year.”

Barthel mentioned that the top priority of the administration is for students to be safe. She said, “We know how to do eLearning, so we can be safe and continue to learn from home and not have to add a day at the end. We’re very lucky that when we do have to go to an eLearning (day), I think there’s still a very high level of teaching and learning going on.”

On Feb. 18, several other local districts as well as Catholic high schools were on eLearning day schedules, but classes took place in person on the Hill.