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Fairfield schools to keep some online instruction

FAIRFIELD – The Fairfield Community School District is gearing up for the return of middle school and high school students on Monday when the entire student body will be welcomed back into their respective school buildings.

The district’s elementary students have been attending fully in-person classes since Oct. 5. The district sought to stagger the reintroduction of the students to all in-person classes and started with the students it felt needed in-person classtime the most, the younger kids.

The district will not completely abandon the hybrid model on Monday, however. Instead, it will move to a schedule where students are in their buildings four days of the week, and on Wednesday they will do online instruction.

Fairfield schoolSuperintendent Laurie Noll said the elementary students who are now going to school on Wednesdays will assume this new schedule, too, where they will stay home on Wednesdays. She said the district didn’t want to split families with multiple children where one would be going to class and the other staying home.

Noll remarked that one advantage of this system is that the students will maintain their practice with online coursework, which will come in handy on a snow day where the district has to cancel in-person classes. She said that, now that the district can conduct a normal day of classes online, it will not need to cancel classes for inclement weather but instead conduct them virtually.

Another advantage of keeping up with online instruction is that the district will be prepared if it does have to return to the hybrid model should COVID-19 cases rise sufficiently so that fully in-person classes are no longer safe.

Noll said the off-campus locations where students have received instruction on their days outside of class will no longer be used, even on Wednesdays when all students will be doing online instruction.

“Those were such a wonderful support for families,” Noll said. “They filled a gap so that families could have access to the internet.”

During Monday night’s school board meeting, the board approved hazard pay for food service workers who continued working after classes went online last March. Noll said the district will distribute nearly $18,000 among the food service employees. Noll said the food service workers made 700 meals at a time and individually wrapped them for each student so they could have meals the whole week.

The board approved an agreement with the Ottumwa School District so that Fairfield boys could join Ottumwa’s high school boys swimming team. The board approved an agreement with Pekin to allow that school to send girls to play on Fairfield High School’s girls’ soccer team.