Esperanza School students have been back to a hybrid model, welcoming students both in-person and/or virtually, for about two months now. Since April 19, about 60% of our students have been attending school Monday through Thursday, and Friday, all students are remote.
For the small group of students who are still learning at home, teachers have streamed their live classroom lessons using their SmartBoard. Staff continue to deliver supplemental academic and therapy packets to students’ homes to ensure they are receiving the same access to instruction as students attending daily — an accommodation that was also made during the height of the pandemic.
“It’s been really great to see our students back in our classrooms,” says Esperanza teacher, Leslie Simon. “Last year, we missed the face-to-face interaction and personal connection with our students and their families, so it’s been nice to return in-person and rebuild our routines and new normal.”
With the majority of students back in the building, the school has been implementing whole-school lessons in different subject areas. During April and May, students learned about 2D and 3D shapes and applied their knowledge by building their own models during a fun science day. At the end of May and into June, students are learning how to take care of plants in order to tend to the school garden in the courtyard.
“These whole-school lessons encourage safe collaboration amongst teachers, as they plan together,” says Instructional Specialist, Marissa Blankenship. “Further, our students are able to work toward a common goal. After a year of being apart, it’s exciting to provide small opportunities to socialize and learn together.”
Since students returned in April and continued throughout the Spring and Summer, COVID-19 protocols and guidelines are still closely monitored and followed throughout the building, including:
- Frequent disinfection of high-touch surfaces, a life skill that has been integrated into teachers’ daily lessons
- Mask wearing by all staff and students
- Lunchtime in classrooms to prevent large groups gathering in the cafeteria
As the end of June approaches, the academic school year will come to a close and Esperanza prepares for Extended School Year (ESY). Starting June 24, ESY begins where all students are given the option to return in person, or stay remote through the end of July. The majority of families are choosing to send their child back to in-person learning, with about 10-15% of families continuing to stay virtual. The school will continue to keep virtual Fridays through July to focus on sanitation & cleaning, due to welcoming additional students back to each classroom.
“Unless we have a major change in national, state, and local regulations, we will be returning to in-person learning for all students during the 2021-22 school year,” says Anne Hellmer, School Principal. “All of our staff are really looking forward to a normal school year for the first time in about two years! However, we will continue to monitor COVID -19 to ensure we’re keeping everyone safe and healthy.”