In recent months, Providence has prided itself in being one of few schools to keep its doors open and remain in-person 5 days a week. The new hybrid model, Providence style, continues in-person learning, with a twist.

Hybrid learning at PA accommodates students in a separate location on school grounds during select class periods in a given day.  Students and faculty generally agree this model is more effective for learning than off-campus plans. The hybrid model also has proven effective in mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

Two weeks before Christmas break, the number of COVID cases in the PA community was steadily increasing. With the practice of sending close contacts to quarantine to monitor for symptoms, almost all of the junior grade and several others were online from home already. As the holiday season approached, the administration elected to transition to plan B, the hybrid model. 

With the Lower School staying in class as normal, Middle School stopping hybrid the week of January 18th, and Upper School stopping hybrid the week of February 1st, everyone was happy to start the new semester strong, back in class full time.

This science class looks sparsely attended, but all students are present either in class, from home, or from an on campus hybrid location.

Mrs. Teresa Claypool, Dean of the Middle School, commented, “The hybrid model was nice to help with social distancing, but it was hard at times because we had technological glitches, and students preferred to be in the classroom to get the most of their classes.”

Adam Murto ‘25 agreed, “Hybrid is kind of hard. You have to force yourself to pay attention and learn whereas in the class you can’t really do anything else. It’s kind of nice to be able to prioritize on your own time though.”

As of February 1, shortly after returning from hybrid to all students in the classroom each period, the Upper School had three new COVID cases, all sports-related. This meant more close contacts and more people out. One close contact ‘23 remarked, “Hybrid was a little more work, but I think [these new cases and the large number of quarantined close contacts at present] proves that it did really help [keep us in school] and it would maybe be helpful to go back [to hybrid]”.

The raw data of cases over the past couple of months taken from the Providence Academy website.

Overall, utilizing hybrid learning along with pausing sports, clubs, and any other school activities remarkably dropped the numbers, going from 5 cases (and many, many more out for close contact) in November to 0 and 1 in December and January respectively. 

Clubs and other organizations are happy to be back after also being paused for a significant period of time. Craft Club leader Christina Von Dohlen ‘22, says “It didn’t really feel like a school with no outside activities or sports, especially when you are only in classrooms part-time. But hybrid definitely helped the spreading; being out for a close contact for 2 weeks multiple times is not fun.” 

National numbers point to the steady decline of new COVID cases, vaccines are in circulation, and learning communities continue resourceful use of mitigating methods like hybrid learning.  In light of these promising developments, routine appears within reach in the months to come.  Even the thought brings some relief,