Like most school districts, Williamston Community Schools are back to full capacity in-person learning, following a challenging year of online courses due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Williamston High School dealt with last year by doing half online and half in person, following a hybrid model, allowing some students to be on campus while others completed their classes online via Google teams.
“We started last fall online, and we came back in January as a hybrid model,” said high school teacher Mitch Lutzke. “We were out for two weeks for quarantine, but by spring
last year we were down to about 25% to 30% of kids in the building, the rest of the kids were online.”
This school year, the high school is back to full capacity and following specific guidelines and protocols, to keep students and staff safe during these unusual times.
Ingham County Emergency Orders
“Right now all the school districts are under two emergency orders in Ingham County,” said Superintendent Adam Spina. “Nothing more stringent or less stringent, we are just following what’s in the orders, and so far so good.”
According to the Ingham County Health Department, the first emergency order is that “educational institutions, child care centers, pre-schools, and pre-K to 12 schools are required to wear masks for control of the epidemic, while in buildings and around others, as well as maintaining a safe and social distance.”
The second emergency order is “the isolation and quarantine order in educational settings stating that if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 they are required to self isolate and quarantine for 10 days.”
While Ingham County has put in place orders for school districts to follow, Williamston high school teacher Megan Allen has enforced her own ways of keeping herself and her students safe.
“We try to keep our desks as far and spaced out as we can,” Allen said. “We also wipe down our tables as best and as often as we can, it kind of depends on the teacher and what works best for them.”
Ensuring that students remain safe during these times, students and staff must wear masks at all times and keep a safe distance throughout the school day.
Impact on Students
As online teaching was tough and challenging, many teachers came up with fun creative ways to bring students together and keep them engaged while looking at a screen.
“It’s been so much better teaching public school in person, last year students were very hesitant to ask questions or anything,” said Lutzke. “Whereas this year, you can see them, their body language, if they are struggling, or have questions.”
Now that students are back in the classroom and in a somewhat normal learning environment, grades, alertness, and assignments have increased.
“The grades are way up this year, turning the work in on time has been way up and it’s just been way better overall,” said Lutzke.