Hybrid Considerations: Families

Families with students in hybrid classes weigh the benefits of students having face-to-face contact with teachers and peers with the potential risks of exposure to COVID-19. Often, they juggle more complicated schedules than their all-remote peers. Administrators noted that families cited the lack of consistency in the hybrid schedule as one reason they chose all-remote instruction. Overall, students seem to benefit from some in-school time, but it can mean more scheduling and organizational challenges. Families need simple, targeted support to help their students with these challenges.

Schools also need to continue to engage families with an unwavering commitment to equity. At a basic level, this requires simple ways to monitor successful and unsuccessful outreach attempts as well as self-reflection on the quality of these efforts and interactions. On a deeper level, this means focusing on families strengths and demonstrating a continuing commitment to cultural responsiveness. Teachers of hybrid classes may be better able to connect with families because of the strengthened relationships they have forged during in-person time.

Guiding Questions:

  • What can help families of students in hybrid classes with the organizational challenges of combining in-school and remote learning?
  • How are the assets of every family being proactively acknowledged and engaged?
  • What are the ongoing efforts to reach families, especially those that are the most marginalized, using culturally responsive techniques?

Help Families Help Their Students Stay Organized in a Hybrid World

One way to help parents and guardians help their students is to provide the specific information needed to stay on top of what work and materials are needed when and where. District and school leaders can ensure families receive this guidance by creating, or asking teachers to design, simple weekly protocols that give parents/guardians the same information students have about expectations such as the materials they need for in-school days versus at home, when assignments are due, and what to do if they need help.

How to Keep Students Organized in a Hybrid Model suggests:

  • Weekly Friday emails to families that include a brief outline of what was done that week, upcoming assignments, questions for discussion, and any materials that students will need for the coming week.
  • Copying parents/guardians on all emails to students regarding assignments. It is helpful if adults are in the loop and can remind them.
  • Creating a list of essential materials and supplies for remote and in-person learning so students know what items they need every day to be successful.


Equitable and Meaningful Family Check-Ins

Ongoing check-ins with all families are essential, but consider occasional targeted check-ins for hybrid families to see if any common needs arise and to identify needed supports.

To ensure equity, continue to work to engage families from the most marginalized communities and make daily, randomized calls to families to get an on-the-ground sense of how learning is going and what the gaps and opportunities are (Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Family Engagement in the Time of COVID-19 and Remote Learning and Always, NYU Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools (NYU Metro Center [CRE Hub]).

For more information, visit the Family Support section of this guide.

Use or customize for hybrid or remote families either of these ready-to-use check-in connection tools to track equity and quality of communications:

  • Ongoing Communication Reflection Tool is a simple Excel document that helps educators reflect on their efforts to build trusting relationships and meaningful partnerships with families through ongoing communication (Flamboyan Foundation).
  • Parent COVID-19 Communication Log is a simple way to ensure that school staff collect vital information on family/student well-being during check-ins and identify those who need additional support (AMLE’s COVID-19 Resource Center).

Tools for Educators to Listen to and Learn from Families During COVID-19 School Closures includes ready-to-adapt email or text language, phone or video scripts, post- conversation reflection and action, sample survey questions, and follow-up messages for families not yet reached (CRE Hub, NYU Metro Center).

Take an Asset-Based Approach to Family Engagement

Remember to focus on the home culture of families – the wisdom, assets, challenges, and experiences that are unique to each. Have leaders and staff check their assumptions and be gentle. Each family is handling this pandemic in their own way (Parent Teacher Home Visits [PTHV]).

With that in mind, tap into families’ talents, skills, knowledge, and networks to support learning and well-being and to build community among and between hybrid and remote families (Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Family Engagement in the Time of COVID-19 and Remote Learning and Always, CRE Hub, NYU Metro Center).

For more information, visit Anti-Racism, Bias, Relevance, and Cultural Responsiveness in the Professional Development section of this guide.

PTHV’s Maintaining Relationships in a Time of Social Distancing toolbox offers tips and actions for helping teachers maintain relationships with families despite social distancing, such as:

  • Reflecting on any assumptions they might have about how families “should” educate or care for their children during isolation.
  • Reaching all their students’ families in their home languages through apps such as Talking Points (free for educators), which supports two-way individual or group communication in over 100+ languages.

Schools can help parent/guardians have enriching, interactions with students and other families. Visit the Culturally Responsive Education Hub for ideas such as:

  • Video discussions – Could a parent/guardian in a front-line worker profession share the upsides and downsides of their role during COVID-19? Or could a parent/guardian in an arts or design profession lead a group discussion about their work process? Or could a multilingual parent/guardian lead a book club for multilingual learners?
  • Leveraging trust – Could a grandparent who has the trust of other families work with the school social worker to engage families in reaching out to those that have not yet connected with the school community? Are there community organizations and leaders already engaging and supporting families that can be a school or district partner?

(Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Family Engagement in the Time of COVID-19 and Remote Learning and Always, CRE Hub, NYU Metro Center)

This brief, Putting Families at the Center: The Role of Parent Advocacy Groups during COVID-19, will give district, intermediary, and school leaders ideas on how and why to connect families to advocacy groups that support and empower families (CRPE).