Wasatch School District Shares Insights From Week One Back to School
Last Monday, Wasatch School District began in-person learning at its schools.
About 85% of Wasatch County School District students are in class again after COVID-19 disrupted the school year this spring.
Three back-to-school options were offered to families in the district for this fall. One is the standard in-person classroom instruction. A second is a hybrid option that mixes both in-person core classes and online electives. The third option is a full virtual learning class which is being taught by a handful of teachers assigned to at-home instruction.
Academic Director Garrick Petersen says about 7% of families chose the hybrid option and the remaining students are doing virtual learning full time.
“Teachers have come back happy. Kids have come back happy,” he said. “A lot of energy. You know the excitement of the first day of school was there and so far according to the data that we track, the kids, we have brought them back healthy. But we'll see how that goes as we continue.”
Teachers will not be teaching both in-person and online. The district has systems in place for virtual teachers to access curriculum and ensure students are meeting academic expectations.
“We have a group of 10 or so online teachers in the district and they have, if you look at the numbers that are in there, it's about one class per elementary grade level in the district,” Petersen said. “So those teachers take that class of around 30 kids and they have their own teacher and that teacher checks in with them, teaches them online. So, our teachers aren’t doing both.”
If a student has COVID-19 symptoms or is home due to a family member who is ill, teachers will be able to continue teaching them through the online canvas program. Petersen says there are some children who need additional support, such as ESL or special education students.
“Most of them are running in our full-time program, which means they're going to get our full support,” Petersen said. “They've got access to everything that they did before as far as language in a fairly normal way. For those kids that are in that population that chose the halftime or online, we definitely have the accommodations for them. They’re a little bit different than they would receive in their regular classroom but we do have some supports for them.”
Petersen says parents are expected to screen their children every morning to help the district meet its goals.
“Three goals in our district this year: one is to make sure that none of our teachers contract the virus while at work,” he said. “We have got to keep them safe. Our kids learn better when our teachers are there. Second one is to make sure none of our schools or classrooms get closed down or would be put online. If we're going to do those first two well then, we have got to make sure that kids aren't in our school sick and that we're all working on this together. It's not just a school goal, this is a community goal and our parents have been phenomenal and doing their part. The third goal is that our kids learn every essential thing that we wanted them to learn. That's done best when our teachers are there, and our kids are there.”
Petersen says some wanted to teach half-days and some completely online. He says, for the most part, the district has been able to accommodate individual teachers’ needs.
Elementary-aged students are keeping social distances but it’s harder to keep students in high school apart. But he says the district is very motivated to not go back to a full shutdown.
“Really, the kids just want to be in school,” Petersen said. “They want to be safe. They want to be open. So, this first week pretty much anything that we've asked them to do on that front, they've been so willing to do.”
Students are riding the buses and they require assigned seating so they can easily contact trace infection if necessary. Students sanitize their hands getting on and off the buses and the drivers are wiping everything down in between.
The Wasatch Wasps held a home football game last Friday. Tickets were required and fans were in assigned seats. Everyone was required to wear a mask. This protocol will continue for all high school sports.