Returning to in-person learning

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Destinee Ott, Richmond Register, Ky.
·3 min read
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Feb. 23—During the week of Feb.8, lives for Madison County School students started, almost, normally.

That day marked the first day back to in-person learning for Madison County School students since the beginning of the new year.

The Madison County School district was able to bring students and staff back into the building because 1,107 teachers and staff had gotten their first round of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Teachers and staff are scheduled to receive the second dose of the vaccine on Mar. 3, Mar. 4, and Mar. 5.

"We are all ready for the magic that is a regular school day," Erin Stewart, community education director, said.

However, Mother Nature had other ideas. Madison County was hit with harsh winter weather, which caused power outages and dangerous ice and snow. This forced the district to decide in-person classes would not be safe. Between Feb. 10 and Feb. 19, Madison County Schools switched back and forth between virtual-only classes and traditional snow days, depending on the county's state of power outages.

With only two days of in-person learning under their belts for the year, 2021 students in Madison County are ready to get back to learning. Thankfully, on Monday, the weather was clear enough to allow some students to come back to their schools for in-person learning.

Madison County Schools are operating on their orange plan. In a previous Register article, Stewart explained the Orange Plan is a hybrid system. This system entails grouping students into two groups with two days each week of instruction — Monday and Wednesday grouped together, and Tuesday and Thursday grouped together. According to the plan, one group of students will attend classes in person on their two days, and then two other days of the week, those students will be learning virtually. Students will be put into groups and will rotate through the schedule.

"Currently, we have about 70% of our students who are Option 1 — in-person attendance," Stewart said in a previous Register article. "Under the Orange Plan, we are able to maintain about 35% of our students being in the building on any given day. Maintaining a lower level of in-person attendance means we can do a great job of social distancing and helping each other stay safe."

With this plan in mind, on Monday, Stewart said Group A students, children with the last names begging with letters A through K, were back in the school buildings. Tuesday Group B students, children with the last names beginning with letters L through Z, will return to their classrooms. They will rotate like this until Friday, which will be a virtual day for everyone, as stated in the orange plan.

"Attendance was good, and everyone was excited to be back and working," Stewart said of the first day back to school.

As for other schools in the county, Berea Independent was also faced with harsh weather and power outages. However, they had not gone back to in-person learning. During the bout of bad weather, the school also switched between traditional snow days and virtual learning days, merely making a choice based on how many in the county were experiencing power outages. For Berea Independent, if everything goes according to plan, on Mar. 8, some students will be returning to small group in-person instruction. They will function on a similar A and B schedule to Madison County Schools, with Monday and Wednesday groups and Tuesday and Thursday groups.