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Virtual Learning Day helps students practice for online school

Published: Oct. 17, 2020 at 12:17 AM CDT
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OELWEIN, Iowa (KCRG) - The Oelwein Community School District held a Virtual Learning Day for it’s elementary school students on Friday. The district is currently using a hybrid model for 5th-12th grade students, but elementary school students are learning in-person, with a new pod-model classroom that reduces the number of students in a class.

The Virtual Learning Day was designed to help staff and students are make sure they’re ready to go online, in the event of a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Jessica Keegan is in her 6th year of teaching in the district. She says this year looks a lot different than she’s used to, but she’s excited about the pod-model. “It keeps us a lot safer, there’s only 10-12 kids in that classroom. I really enjoy it too because it gives us a lot more one-on-one time with those kids," says Keegan. She says the test in virtual learning went well, with all of her students actively engaged in their activities and homework and no major technical issues. “We practiced all week this week, in my classroom anyways, so they know how to get on in case they’re home with someone who doesn’t know...they’re first graders, they need that practice," says Keegan.

Principal Justin McGuinness says the test of virtual learning is an important part of being prepared for the unusual year. “It’s basically a dry run, in case we were to have to shut down due to COVID-19, or possibly snow days too. It gives us a chance to see if there are any bumps, and kinks with students learning from home," says McGuinness.

McGuinness says Oelwein schools have handled the few positive cases it’s seen with contact tracing and quarantining affected students. He says he’s not anticipating needing to go completely online anytime soon, but that it’s important to be ready, saying “Now that we have time to prepare, we can make sure we have an even better educational experience for our families.”

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