Dean, I’m able to keep the conferences somewhat limited because many of them are open to doing the letter or video option. But it is the hardest, most labor-intensive part of the whole process. I meet with them before and after school, during lunch, as well as during class over the course of a few days.
To make this work, I have to find some productive things for students to engage in on their own. I’ve developed a few ways of doing this. For example, another main focus of my class is student-led discussions. I get 4 groups going at a time, discussing this or that novel, and leave 4 Chromebooks recording those discussions using Screencastify (premium account, so no time limit). I post those videos later on Seesaw and tag all the students in the group. Students then self-assess and set goals.
Full disclosure, I am also blessed to have an intern from Michigan State University every year, so that’s another point in my favor. I think it’s perfectly fine to limit this option as much as your situation dictates. The letter and video option (with follow-up conferences if necessary) should be sufficient. As I just read recently, you are not a public utility!