‘We love having our kids here’: update from EACS school year

Return to Learn

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – East Allen County School District had pandemic plans in place for the start of the school year. Overall the district has adjusted and is thankful that students are able to be there.

Superitendent Marilyn Hissong says that the biggest challenge has been ensuring virtual and in-person students have everything they need to successfully learn. She says the staff has been busy, especially teachers.

“I have to give them so much credit because they have worked tirelessly to develop lessons that of course are engaging but still meet the needs of the classroom,” Hissong says.

One of those teachers, Brad McAlexander, is a teacher at Woodlan High School. He thinks this year has gone well so far. He doesn’t want any of his students to feel left out whether they are learning in the classroom or online.

“Teaching is a challenge anyway and there’s always new things that pop up and so maybe 2020 is a little more than normal but it’s been going pretty well,” McAlexander says.

At the elementary level, EACS was able to create all virtual or all in-person classrooms. For secondary level education, teachers have both in-class and virtual students when they are teaching lessons throughout the school day. When students have to quarantine, they transition to full time virtual learners, which has been a slight challenge for the district.

Many teachers are using larger rooms for group work so students are able to spread out. The only thing that is significantly different for student’s social life at school is that they’re wearing masks when interacting with each other now. Papers are not being passed around as often to reduce the spread of the virus and instead school work is being completed on iPads. Besides a few pop-up glitches, there haven’t been many issues with technology for students to compete assignments.

Changes have been made all around, from custodian’s cleaning protocol, to bus drivers making sure riders are masking up, to cafeteria workers preparing food differently than ever before. The district is adjusting and thankful that students are learning.

“We wouldn’t trade it because we love having our kids here and having our kids back in school so that in itself has just been a blessing,” Hissong says.

For McAlexander, both in-class and virtual students are doing the exact same assignments, and the virtual students are part of the classroom. Teachers have been working together to help each other learn ways to best interact and teach students throughout the start of the school year.

“I think I’ve seen collaboration to a whole new level amongst teachers cause at the end of the day most teachers, we want to reach our kids, and so we’re going to do what it takes,” McAlexander says.

In East Allen County, 17% of elementary students and 16% of middle and high school students are learning virtually this year.

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