Lawrence Township welcomes back students for in-person, virtual learning

Education

LAWRENCE, Ind. – Thursday was the first day of school for MSD Lawrence Township. As many students made the choice to stay virtual, others headed back to class. We got an exclusive look inside an elementary, middle, and high school to see what changes are being made to keep students and staff safe.

As Crestview Elementary welcomes back students, Teacher Alison McClarnon is excited to be back.

She’s guiding students online, while there’s another teacher in the room for students who chose to be in-person.

“We have 30 kids on my roster and about 15 of them are virtual and 15 are in person,” said McClarnon.

During the school day, elementary students are mostly inside the classroom. They’re required to wear their masks and follow social distance guidelines in the hallways. Teachers spent some time teaching and going over how to properly follow the new rules this school year.

Principal Natalie Schneider has implemented a sign-in and out sheet for classrooms, so if there is a COVID case, there’s a way to contact trace.

“I think the biggest challenge is probably how we’re going to deliver instruction to students who are virtual and in person,” Schneider added.

At Belzer Middle School, you’ll find similar rules. Signage, masks, and social distancing are key. In the cafeteria, kids are assigned a seat to ensure no sits next to or in front of another student.

“We’ve got lots of space and lots of opportunity for us to meet all of the regulations,” said Principal Andy Harsha.

He explained that normally, you’d find 1,150 middle schoolers walking these halls. Roughly 450 selected the virtual option, which leaves the school with about 700 in-person students. Due to the hybrid model, Harsha expects about half of those students to be at school on this first day.

Across the street at Lawrence Central High School, Principal Franklyn Bush and his staff have taken part in weeks of training to prepare.

“You’ll see visuals around the hall, regardless of the wall or on the floor for directional social distancing,” said Bush.

For teachers like Aly Steinmetz, it’s an adjustment. She described the first day as a rollercoaster of emotions. She’s numbered desks and color-coded them, to keep kids socially distant through the hybrid schedule – which she believes is the right way to reopen.

“My students got to meet me today and they will continue to meet me, so I can build that relationship. Then, when they go virtual they know who I am,” she said.

Some high schoolers may have to travel to other buildings in the district to attend a class. At Lawrence Central, they have a created a bell to dismiss those students before the others, to limit the number of kids in the hallways during passing periods.

“We’re ready to adapt and do what’s best,” Bush added, “Even to see a third of our kids and the rest online – it’s better than nothing at all.”

Lawrence Township did have some technical issues this morning as students attempted to log in to class.

However, teachers were in contact with their students to find a way around the problem.

Click here to read their full reopening plan.

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