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Preparations underway at Appleton schools for in-person learning

Local News

APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) Several schools in our area have returned to in-person learning, and one of our largest, the Appleton School District will soon be returning to the classrooms.

When Appleton school kids finally step onto school grounds things will look pretty much the same throughout the school district.

Greg Hartjes, CFO for Appleton Area Schools says, “A leadership team member went through every building to make sure the checklist is followed so every building, for the most part, is going to function the same way across our district.”

However, inside kids will notice the biggest changes in seating.

When students arrive, they’ll notice that desks are spaced apart in groups of four. Kids in this group of four will remain partnered throughout the remainder of the school year.

Shayla Lange, a kindergarten teacher at Franklin Elementary says, “We pod our students in groups of four so in kindergarten it’s really important that they have that sense of community in our classroom.”

Students will also notice that class sizes have been reduced.

Hartjes says, “We look at again the CDC guidelines and wanting to keep all of those bodies within in our buildings six feet apart when feasible we can’t have classes that have 30 students.”

The principal at Franklin Elementary. Dr. Carrie Willer says, “All of our kindergarten through fourth-grade class sizes are capped at twenty students and then our fifth and sixth graders within the elementary school are split in half for hybrid. So by having these smaller class sizes, we are able to focus on better mitigation strategies.”

Throughout the day, students are reminded to keep socially-distanced and along with other safety protocols.

Dr. Willer says, “You’ll find that students will have various line-up spots. we have some sneeze guards that will be available in all of our classrooms so that if a teacher needs to pull a very small group together back at a table, we can socially distance the individuals. We’ve also provided all of our students with a lanyard so that during times of the day when they’re eating lunch or they’re having breakfast in the classroom, it’s safe to remove their masks.”

Students that need to be quarantine will still feel like part of the class thanks to equipment installed by the district.

Jennifer Beyer, a second-grade teacher at Franklin Elementary school says, “We have a camera up above and it doesn’t show the entire classroom but a pretty good chunk of the classroom and they would be able to see instruction that way.”

If a child does become ill while they’re at school, they are escorted to an isolation room with a separate exit, that allows a parent to safely pick-up their child.

At the end of the day, schools will have a staggered dismissal. Students will aslo depart from different doors at different times.

Dr. Willer says, “Students we’re going to have an excellent day of learning. Its going to look sound, feel a little different, but its also going to look sound feel a little the same.”

The district plans on welcoming most of its students back next week, January 19th.

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