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Schools weigh on start of new year: Virtual, face-to-face or hybrid?

Christina also seems set to go online, and many other districts up and down state have school board votes scheduled.

NOTE: This story has been updated to include Colonial’s announcement that all classes will start remotely, and Lake Forest will start in hybrid mode.

The Appoquinimink School District board voted unanimously on Tuesday to begin school virtually for six weeks and then, if health conditions allow for it, move to a hybrid model.

It joins the Red Clay, Capital and Milford districts in announcing remote starts, even as the state Department of Education and Gov. John Carney urged schools to start with a hybrid model.

The state wants younger kids in classrooms, partly because they need the one-on-one help to learn the basics and partly because they are less likely to be infected by the novel coronavirus and less likely to infect others.

The Delaware State Education Association, the union representing 12,000 workers in schools across the state, has asked to start with six weeks of virtual learning.

Christina seems to be headed toward a virtual start, and the Lake Forest School District will vote on its start Thursday night.

Here’s where public schools stand on opening as of Wednesday, Aug. 12.

“Please remember all Safe Return to School plans are subject to change at any time due to the unpredictable impact that COVID-19 has had on our state and school district,” the Colonial School District writes in a caution that applies to them all.

New Castle County


At Appo, virtual instruction will run Sept. 8 through Oct. 16, 12:30-3:30 p.m. for ages 3 and 4, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for grades K-5 and 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for middle and high school.

In the hybrid model, starting Oct. 19, preschool is in school 9 a.m.-noon, with virtual learning 12:30-3:30 p.m. Elementary students would be divided into groups, meeting one day in school, the next virtually. On Wednesdays, all elementary classes would be virtual.

In the hybrid model, middle school students would be divided into three cohorts, with two cohorts attending in person twice a week and the third cohort entirely virtual. In-school classes would be 9:30-11:45 a.m. Mondays-Thursdays, with virtual classes 12:45-3:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. The plan for high school is identical, except that in-school classes end at 11:35 a.m.


Superintendent Lincoln Hohler will present a plan at the school board meeting Monday evening and will follow up with an email to all families and staff on Tuesday, district spokeswoman Alexis Andrianopoulos said today.


The Christina School District board voted unanimously on Tuesday for a consent agenda. Superintendent Dan Shelton told the board that the Delaware State Education Association, a union representing 12,000 people working for schools, “has asked that districts look at a six-week remote learning plan to make certain that all of our staff have the training and make sure that all of the protocols are in place. And it is our intent to follow that ask of DSEA and open our schools remotely in the Christina School District. Our full plan we intend to publish by the end of the week.” First day is Sept. 8.


The district on July 24 announced that William Penn High School will begin remotely and offered choices for pre-K through eighth grade. Now it has announced that schools will open remotely on Sept. 8.

“We have decided it is in the best interest of students and staff to delay the face-to-face option and only offer remote learning to all students grades Pre-K through 8 for the first six weeks of the school year,” said superintendent Jeffrey Menzer. 

That will allow them time to better plan and implement things like directional signs in hallways, Menzer said in a note to the district. It has created the CSD Virtual Academy to help students.

The district had announced a staggered start. The first day of school is Sept. 8 for students whose surnames start with A to L, and their second day is Sept. 9. The first day is Sept. 10 for students whose surname starts with M to Z. All students will report on Sept. 14. Plans for Wallace Wallin and other special programs are pending, according to its website.

Red Clay

All students will learn remotely for the first six weeks, with the first day Sept. 8.


The district hopes to announce a plan the week of Aug. 17. The deadline for an interest survey was Aug. 10

“We are now spending time reviewing responses, talking with teachers’ association, before a recommendation to our school board,” district spokeswoman Kathy Demarest said. “Students’ first day of school is Tuesday, Sept. 8, and will be virtual no matter what the decision is. If we offer a hybrid plan, it would bring in students one day a week by grade level, to focus on career program practice and academic/social/emotional supports.”

If Vo-Tech offers a hybrid option, students would come to school one day a week by grade level. The other days would be a blend of online instruction and assignments, its website says

Kent County

Caesar Rodney

The school board meets Tuesday, Aug. 18 to decide.  


The district welcomes students on Sept. 8 with “a full remote learning model for the first six weeks of school,” according to an Aug. 8 posting

Lake Forest

Superintendent Steven V. Lucas announced Friday that the Board of Education approved a plan Thursday night for returning to school in a hybrid mode starting Sept. 8.

“In the plan, a group of students will be returning to school in a “hybrid” model where they will be receiving face to face and online instruction, while remaining students are returning to school in an enhanced and improved, fully remote, online version.” wore Steven V. Lucas in a letter on the district’s website.

The site urged families to watch video of the meeting, which it said would answer many questions. More details will be coming from schools, the letter and site said.


All students will begin the academic year on Sept. 8 virtually, with teachers and paraprofessionals in their buildings, Superintendent Patrik D. Williams wrote on Aug. 5. That rolls into hybrid instruction:

From Sept. 8 through Oct. 2, pre-K through grade 12 virtual. 

From Oct. 5 through Oct. 23, K-3 hybrid; pre-K and grades 4-12 virtual. 

From Oct. 26 through Nov. 13, pre-K through grade 6 hybrid; grades 7-12 virtual. 

From Nov. 16 through Dec. 4, pre-K through grade 8 hybrid; grades 9-12 virtual. 

From Dec. 7 until Gov. John Carney issues an order moving to the “green” phase of reopening, all students hybrid.

Starting Sept. 16 and running until Carney goes for in-person instruction, all schools will be closed every Wednesday for deep cleaning, with instruction and academic support from staffers’ homes. 

Sussex County

Cape Henlopen

The district is “moving forward with a hybrid model,” district spokeswoman Stephanie DeMalto said. Learning model descriptions divide middle and high school students into three cohorts, with one group attending in person on Mondays and Tuesdays and virtually the other days, the second group attending in person Thursdays and Fridays and virtually the other days, and the third group virtual all five schooldays. For elementary students, “daily schedules will include live, synchronous, learning as well as asynchronous, self-paced learning.” A 26-page reopening plan outlines others protocols. 


The board plans meetings on Thursday, Aug. 13, and Tuesday, Aug. 18 to decide.

Indian River

The district is developing hybrid and remote models when school begins Sept. 17, Superintendent Jay Owens wrote Aug. 7. The hybrid model calls for elementary students in person two days a week (Monday-Tuesday or Thursday-Friday) and high school students in person one day week. “Once the number of students electing the hybrid model is determined, it may be necessary to phase the hybrid model in over a series of weeks.” It’s also maintaining a FAQ on reopening. The reopening committee is meeting through Monday, Aug. 17, said David Maull, district public information officer.


District schools open Sept. 9 with all remote learning for six weeks, according to the district website.


Polytech High School starts classes Sept. 9, with students split into three groups, with each getting in-class instruction one day a week and virtual instruction the other days. Virtual instruction will be both synchronous and asynchronous.


The district plans to decide at the board meeting on Monday, Aug. 17.

Sussex Tech

The district was surveying parents through Aug. 10, and the school board is holding a special meeting Thursday, Aug. 20 to discuss reopening plans.


The district is planning hybrid instruction and offering remote instruction “to students who wish to remain home.” For hybrid instruction, students will be split into two groups, with one group in school – socially distanced and with extra cleaning and rules – and the other learning online.

For grades K-5, face-to-face instruction will run 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., with after-care, planning and remote instruction through 3:50. For grades 6-12, face-to-face instruction will run 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., with planning and remote instruction through 2:50.

This list will be updated as schools announce decisions.

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