School focus is on student safety

I feel my children are lucky to be able to attend a school whose focus has been on their safety as they allowed all students back in the classroom this fall. No matter the grade, we were given the option to send our children to school in person or to opt into distance learning online. After taking careful consideration of these options, combined with knowing my children’s learning and personality styles, it was an easy choice.

However, not all plans are fail-proof, and there was a slight “scare” toward the end of September, resulting in a 14-day, learn-from-home stint. As we observed our administrators make this difficult decision, one could hardly complain as their decisions were made with our children’s safety and health front and center.

As the elementary grades attending Lanesboro School District wrapped up a two-week quarantine, the kids were more than excited to get back. But, compared to last year’s three-month stint at distance learning, these two weeks were a breeze!

Frankly, coordinating and teaching distance style to close out last year’s academic year was a nightmare for parents. With kids at home in kindergarten, fourth grade and tenth grade and a junior in college, I felt more like an event coordinator than a “teacher” (I say this lightly as a teacher I am not!).

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Imagine being the teachers who learned by being thrown into the fire of Zoom, Google Meets, Google Classroom and organizing papers and books! Of course, they did the best they could, and we all plugged away at making it through.

This year, the distance learning seemed much easier from a home-teacher standpoint. With only two days for organizing and pulling together send-home curriculum and worksheets, the teachers in Lanesboro did an amazing job!

My first-grade son has Mrs. Shannon Vickerman, and her organizational skills to keep the attention of so many 7-year-olds were “on fire.” With just the right amount of reading, writing, math and Zoom, my son was kept busy with coloring, counting and face-to-face time with her and his classmates. He was excited to get back this week because, “She makes me smile, and she’s nice.”

The fifth-graders? Well, their teacher, Mrs. Jody Ruen, had the best laid out plan a parent could ask for! School for them at home closely resembled school at school! Their day began at 8:30 a.m. and concluded around 1 p.m. The perfect amount of time was allotted for teacher-driven instruction, homework and questions. Accompanied by a clearly spelled out plan for parents, all textbooks and a packet with corresponding worksheets were sent home and easy to follow.

In asking the fifth-graders why they were excited to return to school, their responses were quite different. One stated, “I like Mrs. Ruen because she actually has a sense of humor!” The other stated, “She’s nice!” In fifth grade, Mrs. Ruen’s other half is Ms. Lindsay Hanson. Sam, who is rather talkative, ended his comments with, “I like Ms. Hanson, too. She lets us talk!” After hearing his comment, I looked at him with one raised eyebrow, and he knew he had “busted” himself.

This year’s school experience has had its ups and downs. But, we are nowhere near the frustration level felt by both parents and teachers last year. I am thankful for the entire staff in Lanesboro who are concerned for our kids’ safety and health. Without their efforts, and probably “blood, sweat and tears,” this year would be entirely different than what we are experiencing.

Kristen Asleson is owner of Midwest Virtual Assistants. Send comments and ideas to [email protected]

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