SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Schools across Northwest Arkansas will soon be done with the first half of the school year. Springdale School officials tell us the spring will look more or less the same as this one. Kids will be wearing masks, have to social distance and follow the safety guidelines in place but more students will back in the classroom, come January.
The semester had its challenges for parents, teachers, and administrators as everyone navigated the changes to the classroom and the different learning formats.
School officials said that at the start of the year there were about 3,000 students who were learning virtually or taking the blended option. Next month, about 220 to 235 full-time virtual students will make the switch back to the traditional classroom.
Stephanie Long, a third-grade teacher at Walter Turnbow Elementary, said parents can have confidence that teachers are committed to their student’s safety as well as their education whether it happens in person or behind a screen.
“While COVID-19 is unpredictable, your child’s education is predictable, your child’s teacher is predictable, we are going to be here. We are going to work hard for your kids, we are going to love on your kids, and keep them safe and that is something that they can count on.”
Long said teachers and students have all of the tools they need to pivot to in-home learning if school closes, or if someone gets sick and cannot make it to class.
Schools will also continue to follow the new quarantine guidelines announced earlier this month.
This affects asymptomatic people exposed to COVID-19 and cuts down the number of days an exposed individual must quarantine if they show no symptoms.
Now when it comes to the number of students switching from on-site to a virtual option, school officials tell us there were very few if any. All of the final numbers are still being calculated.
Long took us into her classroom where all of the students were spread apart doing their work.
She said things do look different in the classroom but teachers are making sure they give their kids the same quality education.
When it comes to approaching the next semester, Long said what these past few months have taught her is to be flexible to be creative with her lesson plans. She added that good parent-teacher communication is also key to everyone being able to smoothly work together.
Long credits students for their hard work and adjusting to all of the changes. They are having to learn at school as well as learn how to be independent when working from home.
She said parents, teachers and students are all having to get used to the added technology and having to do more work behind a computer screen.
“Students have learned how to access information. They have learned how to access assignments, how to access work and how to turn in that work. Teachers have had to get creative thinking about how to best prepare instructions and how to best prepare content and also assessments using a digital method,” said Long.
One of the most challenging parts is probably lunchtime, Long said that’s because it’s a time student are usually with their friends and are able to socialize.
Now, many students are eating in the classrooms at a distance from each other and although social distancing is not the easiest for kids, she said they are doing their best.
Long also wanted to give a special shout-out to the parents who have taken on the role of a teacher this semester.
She said it really takes all of us to make it through this pandemic and she expects next semester to go well.