Class during COVID: Van Buren Elementary School celebrates successful year face-to-face

The pandemic brought a countless number of challenges and changes
Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 8:36 AM CDT
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JANESVILLE, Wis. (WMTV) -School is out for the summer for students and staff at Van Buren Elementary school in Janesville. While challenges and changes were abundant this year due to the pandemic, the school year is being called a rousing success.

“It’s a celebration and it’s like ‘wow it turned out to be a great year” said teacher Becky Carter.

“I’m finishing my 25th year in education and 10th year in administration and there is absolutely nothing could even come close to comparing to this year,” said principal Stephanie Pajerski.

Pajerski says the constant changes were tough but keeping the kids updated on everything new was a top priority.

“We were honest with them,” she said. “We didn’t want to scare them, but if we want to be face to face and be with our friends and be with our teachers and learn and have fun together then we have to do this,”

Students and staff started and finished the school year face-to-face.

“We were very fortunate to be in person all year,” said teacher Amanda Malchow. “I think we were taking bets at the beginning of the year for when we would be shut down and we wound up being here the entire year,”

“We’ve been open face to face all year long because of the efforts from everyone. the whole van Buren community, we made it happen,” added Pajerski.

“Just the resilience kids had was great to see,” said Carter. “We’ve proven that we can help kids be successful with what we need to do and how we need to do it,”

“If I was a teacher I could not do it -- or a staff member -- they did it in a great way and it was very helpful,” said fifth grade student Olivia Perry.

Perry wrapped up her tenure at Van Buren. She’s heading to Edison Middle School next year. She credits her Van Buren teachers for keeping her in class.

“They kept it very smooth, they kept on going, so I don’t know how they did it,” said Perry.

Jarren Richmond will be a 5th grader in the fall, but he’s not sure what school will look like.

“We probably won’t wear masks, there’s a chance we won’t wear masks,” he said.

He hopes masks are a thing of the past for one simple reason.

“Because you can’t see someone smile,” he said.

According to the School District of Janesville, they ended the school year with one active COVID-19 case across the entire district.

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