Anyone who has ever lived or spent considerable time in Three Rivers, knows that Three Rivers School is the heartbeat of the community. On November 12, the 100-plus-student, kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school returned to optional in-classroom learning. It was a bold move given that COVID-19 case numbers were starting to rise again. TRUS returns to in-person
According to Sue Sherwood, TRUS superintendent, the waiver that was approved for Three Rivers School that includes transitional kindergarten through sixth-grade students should have included the 30 seventh and eighth graders too. These students instead were lumped into a middle school category and will continue distance learning until at least the end of Winter Break on January 11.
An on-campus school day in a pandemic
The 55 students that have returned (approx. 20 have opted to continue distanced learning) to the campus gather in their respective classrooms starting at 8 a.m. Google Chromebooks are online by 8:25 a.m. The learning officially starts at 8:30 a.m. TRUS returns to in-person
The students barely look up from their lessons until a 25-minute recess at 10 a.m. The classes alternate for recess one day on the blacktop, the next day out in the field. By 10:25 a.m. every one has returned to their desk which has now become more like a see-through cubby encircled on three sides by a plexiglass enclosure.
The learning sessions are intensive and the consensus among the teachers is that it’s remarkable how well the students have adapted.
“It’s really hard to maintain the proper social distancing because the 15 first and second graders need individual help,” said Jame Beck their teacher. “It takes me nearly 9,000 steps a day and that’s just in my classroom. But the students have been great about wearing their masks.” TRUS returns to in-person
Mrs. Beck must also monitor the progress of the six students whose parents have opted to keep their children home and learning from a distance. Linda Warner, who teaches the third grade, said her day is a little less demanding because she has only four students in the classroom and eight who are learning at home. Everyone is dismissed at 1:30 p.m. Mrs. Warner also mentioned that remarkably very few students even ask for bathroom breaks; when they do it is one student allowed in the bathroom at a time.
Although Sherwood had hoped to bring the seventh and eighth graders back on November 30, it just wasn’t prudent to do so. Sherwood also filled in as a substitute teacher two days this week and said it would not have been possible this year to continue in her administrative roles and teach full-time too.
Sherwood was asked the biggest challenge in going to school in a pandemic:TRUS returns to in-person
“It’s just keeping everyone safe — the staff, the students and the parents,” Sherwood said. “And we couldn’t do it without our excellent janitorial team of Edmund Pena, Rocky Powell, and Alex Garcia.”
And for the record, Three Rivers Union School District gets an A for effort.
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