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Two weeks in: Monroe elementary school students adjust to hybrid learning

Students in the Monroe School District alternate weekly between in-person and virtual instruction.
Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 8:52 PM CDT
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MONROE, Wis. (WMTV) - The Monroe School District in Green County is more than two weeks into a hybrid learning plan with two groups of students alternating between in-person and virtual instruction. Some elementary school teachers said they are impressed with how smoothly students adjusted.

Kindergarten teacher Sheila Anfang is in her thirteenth year at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School. Preparing for the 2020-2021 school year, she had to rethink everything in her classroom.

“[Students] would normally be sitting in groups, in small groups, kind of in a pod or a circle sort of shape," Anfang described.

Now, each student has individual desks and school supplies.

“Those get put out at the tables in the mornings when I have in-person students and get put back on the shelf for cleaning the tables at the end of the day,” Anfang explained.

Anfang’s kids also can no longer share toys. Students check out toys every week and are limited to the area around their desk.

Other safety measures start the minute students walk in the door. As each student enters their classroom, the teacher performs a temperature check.

A temperature of 99.3 sends the student to the health assistant’s office for another check and monitoring for other symptoms. If a student has a temperature over 100, they are sent home.

These changes expand beyond Anfang’s classroom and even the school. All Monroe district students are alternating weekly between in-person and virtual learning, with only half the students coming in each week.

“They are learning new things they probably didn’t expect to learn in kindergarten like how to hit unmute and mute,” Anfang said, laughing.

To allow students to return in person, staff at Abraham Lincoln Elementary had to rework common areas like the cafeteria, allowing only one grade in at a time.

“A table that used to sit six or eight students is now sitting one student,” explained principal Jenna Trame.

There are also several new cleaning procedures. School staff disinfects high-touch areas like doorknobs and handles every two hours and sanitizes all classrooms daily.

Students are encouraged to use hand sanitizer at least once an hour.

“We’ve probably quadrupled the number of hand sanitizer wall dispensers that we have in the building,” Trame explained, adding that the school made all wall dispensers automatic to avoid students touching them.

Despite the countless changes, Anfang said her students have risen to the occasion.

“Wearing their masks and keeping them on and not touching them, they’ve really blown me away with how wonderful they have done learning the new routines,” she explained.

Trame agreed, adding that she has not seen any compliance issues. She said the school district wanted to make sure some students could come back in-person, especially the youngest.

“We know that it’s really important for the kids and the staff to have those in-person connections and be able to build those relationships with our youngest learners," Trame said.

Anfang said there are still challenges with figuring out how to teach with social distancing or through a computer screen, but she is trying to make her students as comfortable as possible.

“Keeping it the same, as normal as you can, so that it feels normal to them and it’s still a positive place for them to come and learn,” she explained.

Abraham Lincoln has not seen any positive COVID-19 cases among students or staff. According to Monroe superintendent Rick Waski, the whole district has two positive cases, but that has not yet impacted their plans.

In case of a spike, the district has already taken steps to make sure they can switch quickly to all-virtual, making sure every student has their own laptop or tablet.

Copyright 2020 WMTV. All rights reserved.

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