Jennifer Van Acker’s sixth-graders practice social distancing as they walk from their Greenville Learning Center school site to the Indian Valley Community Center for recess and garden class Sept. 1. Photo by Ingrid Burke

Plumas Charter School students head back to school at all four learning centers

By Ingrid Burke

Special to Plumas News

[email protected]

Instructional aide Lauren Hollenbeck helps kindergartner Riley Jacks wash her hands before entering the Quincy Learning Center school site at 535 Lawrence St. on her first day of school Sept. 1. Photo by Ingrid Burke

During the first week of September, Plumas Charter School teachers and staff at all four PCS learning centers welcomed students back on campus for the start of their fall 2020 hybrid learning program. This approach includes a combination of on-site classes, distance learning, and independent study. (PCS families always have the option to choose greater levels of independent study for their students.)

A major back-to-school focus across all sites is implementation of the school’s new COVID-19 safety guidelines for on-site classes and activities. These stringent policies — which meet or exceed state guidelines — are designed to ensure the safety and protection of students, families, teachers, and staff. PCS school nurse Danielle

Wagner Plocki was instrumental in the creation of the school’s new COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan, as well as in training staff and creating age-appropriate instructional videos for students.

All PCS staff members received mandatory COVID tests prior to the start of school. All staff and students are also screened for COVID symptoms, including temperature, each morning upon arrival at any school site. All non-essential visitors are prohibited at this time.

Though specific logistics at each site are different, depending on the physical space used and the student population served, some of the major changes include part-time attendance in small cohorts, division of space into dedicated areas, wide spacing of desks, use of face masks, and social distancing.

“Responsiveness” is one of PCS’s core values, and teachers and staff have tapped into many ways to creatively address the challenges of the hybrid program. For example, many teachers have moved class outside when possible, using outdoor classroom areas or nearby parks and open spaces. Hands-free and no-sharing strategies are being implemented for recess, meals, and snack times.

Teachers and administrators have also worked hard to develop schedules that safely accommodate a range of activities for each student cohort separately — a significant logistical challenge.

Teachers are providing age-appropriate education to their students regarding the dangers of COVID and how we can protect ourselves and others. Younger students in particular are receiving specific coaching and support in maintaining their “bubble of space,” donning and removing masks, and working away from others.

Even as details and glitches were ironed out during the first week, teachers shared positive comments across the board about cooperation from students and families. They also expressed gratitude and joy in being able to see students in their classrooms — even if it is in smaller groups wearing masks and refraining from all physical contact

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Kindergarten teacher Janae LaGroue points out rhyming words Sept. 3 at the Chester Learning Center while instructional aide Katie Morris looks on. Photo by Ingrid Burke

PCS is an accredited public school serving students in Plumas and adjacent counties. On-site classes are offered at four learning centers: the Quincy Learning Center (TK–12), the Greenville Learning Center (TK–6), Indian Valley Academy in Taylorsville (7–12), and the Chester Learning Center (TK–12). For more information, visit plumascharterschool.org

Ingrid Burke is the public relations specialist for Plumas Charter School.

 

 

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