The way the 2020-21 school year is going to begin in schools across the nation is going to be unlike any other.
Those words from Becky Cselovszki, Redwood Area School District superintendent, reflect what many are thinking as the first day of school looms.
For students at Reede Gray Elementary School, Redwood Valley Middle School and Redwood Valley High School it all begins this coming Tuesday (Sept. 8). The main focus has been developing on a safe reopening plan.
“The summer planning and safety mitigation efforts have been extensive. School will look different this fall as children enter in masks and practice social distancing. Despite the differences, we will have our students back in front of our teachers, which is the ultimate goal,” explained Cselovszki. “The district has been able to enhance our distance learning model for hybrid learning and those that have chosen that mode for the time being.”
According to Cselovszki, distance learning will follow in live time with the school day and the district has been able to purchase technology with COVID-19 funds to make this experience better than last spring.
“I am proud of the work that our staff has done and will do going into the next few months. We will be ready to go on Sept. 8,” she added.
According to Paul van der Hagen, Reede Gray principal, the in-person model should work well as the numbers indicate social distancing in each classroom is going to be possible. However, he added, adjustments are going to be made as the first days unfold.
He indicated the plan is to keep each classroom cohort together throughout the day as much as is possible, whether that be at lunch or even the playground. Separate areas have been designated on the playground, and each cohort will be assigned an area.
The good news, added van der Hagen, is that there is plenty of outdoor space at Reede Gray, which will also allow teachers to spend teaching time outside to allow students to take off their masks.
“In my career I don’t think I have ever been more excited to see students,” said van der Hagen, adding Sept. 8 is going to be an exciting day.
Robert Elwell, Redwood Valley Middle School principal, is in a unique position, as he has students who will be in-person every day (Grades 5-6) and others who are participating in the hybrid model (Grades 7-8).
Elwell said he thinks it is very important for those fifth and sixth graders to be in school as much as is possible as they continue to make the transition from elementary to middle school.
Social distancing will be practiced as much as is possible, and students, who are required to wear masks, will have time during the day to have breaks from wearing them.
The school district will have masks for students, added Elwell, with each student receiving a cloth mask. The district will also have paper masks available on those days when students forget.
For students in Grades 7-12, the hybrid model will mean students will come to school every other day.
Rick Jorgenson, Redwood Valley High School principal, indicated that information regarding which day a student is supposed to be in school can be found on Schoology.
When they are in school one of the big changes high-school students will see is a reduction in time between classes. There will be three minutes allowed, said Jorgenson, who added the thought is that administration felt it made more sense for students to get to class quickly and then, as a way to reduce the mass numbers in the hallway, students will be able to do those necessary things such as going to the bathroom and their locker.
How teachers offer class to students in Grades 7-12 who are distance learning as part of the hybrid model every other day will be up to the individual educator, and both Elwell and Jorgenson felt that made the most sense as not all classes fit into one format.
More on the upcoming school year can be found on the school district Web site at www.redwoodarea.schools.com.