FAIRFIELD – Fairfield Community School District has begun its transition to having students back in the building full time.
The district began the year with a hybrid model where students were in class half the time and taking online courses the other half. On a given day, only half the student body was in a school building. In September, the school board voted to bring the kids back to class five days a week, starting with the elementary students on Oct. 5.
After more than a week of “normal” classes, the principals at Washington Elementary School and Pence Elementary School said the students are taking the change well and that the transition has gone smoothly. Pence Elementary Principal Angela Jones said the students did well under the hybrid model, though it was probably not convenient for parents.
“The families were great to work with,” Jones said. “I am appreciative of their support with the students at home, as this was not easy for anyone.”
Jones said Oct. 5 felt like “the first week of school all over again,” as the school had to adjust from the small groups of the hybrid model back to the large classes of a normal school year.
“After the first week, we’ve seen new relationships gained, and teachers making appropriate changes to their classroom setup and structure,” Jones said.
Washington Elementary Principal Evan Hammans said the six weeks of the hybrid model made the district learn different forms of technology for teaching students remotely.
“I feel it’s only made our staff and students better,” he said.
Hammans said everyone, from the students to staff to parents, are excited and happy to be back in school full time.
“We are better able to meet the needs of our students, both academically and social emotionally, when we see them every day,” he said.
Not all of the students have returned to the classroom. Students still have the option of taking all of their courses online. Forty students are doing that at Washington (grades preschool through first) and 50 are doing it at Pence (grades second through fourth). Jones noted that one general education teacher from each grade level has been assigned to work with the online students.
Hammans said the only major changes Washington has had to undergo since the transition to full time in-person relate to breakfast and lunch. Given the number of students in the building now, Washington can’t properly socially distance them all in the lunchroom. Now, students eat breakfast in their classrooms and eat lunch in the cafeteria on a rotation, where some weeks a class eats lunch in the cafeteria and other weeks in its classroom.