By MARK EVANS
Ste. Genevieve R-II Schools had no sooner switched to four days a week of live classes when several inches of snow and single-digit temperatures shut classes down again.
Now, the district is finally able to again pursue the goal of getting life back as close to normal for students and teachers as possible.
Since the start of the 2020-2021 school year, R-II leadership has shared with families that the first five inclement weather days would be snow days, and then the district would implement Alternative Methods of Instruction (AMI) Virtual Instruction on any following inclement weather days.
“With this knowledge, our faculty and staff had this possibility in mind, and had been preparing for virtual lessons,” superintendent of schools Dr. Julie Flieg said. “In addition, we were fortunate to have a professional development day scheduled for Friday, Feb. 12, where our buildings could utilize this time to plan for the possibility of AMI Virtual Learning on inclement weather days.”
The school year has been a challenging one, but had seen students on a “blended” schedule first semester.
“Throughout the past year, our administration, faculty and staff have honed their ability to adapt to changing schedules and learning formats, as made necessary by the pandemic and safety precautions,” a district press release stated. “So when our 6-12 grades transitioned to a four-day in-person week in January that was quickly followed by several days of inclement weather, our administration assessed the forecast and pivoted planning for the possibility of virtual learning during inclement weather.
School closed on March 18, 2020, with the 2019-20 school year finishing in a virtual format and extracurricular activities like prom and graduation pushed back into the summer, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both locally and worldwide, students have complained about depression, frustration and isolation during the months they were not able to congregate or attend live classes.
Parents had been urging administrators and school board members to get students back to live learning as quickly as was feasible during the fall. Response to the four-day plan has been good.
“The feedback from faculty and staff, students and parents has been positive regarding the transition to more in-person instruction for the sixth through 12th grades,” Flieg said. “Of course we are happy to have more contact with our students through the week to support their learning, but even more importantly, we see their faces more often, and have those important in-person conversations to check on their progress and mental and social emotional well-being.”
The district has obtained federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding through the Ste. Genevieve County Commission to aid in its efforts to beef up safety and cleanliness in all district buildings and prevent spreading COVID-19 or any other diseases.
“We continue to follow our disinfecting and sanitation protocols as outlined in our Transition Plan/Reopening Plan – Version 5, “ the press release noted.