Targeted services summer school underway in Albert Lea through hybrid model

Published 4:52 pm Thursday, June 18, 2020

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Students attend school in-person 2 days a week, have 2 days of distance learning

The first week of a new hybrid model of summer school for students in the targeted services program has gone forward without any major glitches, said Area Learning Center Principal Johanna Thomas, who oversees the program.

“I think teachers and kids are happy to see each other,” Thomas said.

There are 107 students in first through eighth grades participating at Halverson Elementary School.

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This year because of guidelines surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, students are divided up into A and B groups. Students in the A group come to the school on Mondays and Wednesdays in the mornings, and students in the B group come to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On their off days, they have distance learning.

Students listen in Robin Hundley’s class Thursday morning at Halverson Elementary School. Each class is limited to nine students and one teacher. Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

Thomas said each class has up to nine students and one teacher to maintain social distancing guidelines, and students are limited to about 15 per school bus.

Parents were given information at home about possible coronavirus symptoms to look for in their children, and then children are having their temperatures taken before going into the school.

She said all staff are asked to wear masks, while students can choose to wear a mask from home if they choose.

Students typically arrive between 8:15 and 8:30 a.m. and eat breakfast in the classroom before starting their morning routines. They work on standards-based activities, especially involving reading and math, and also have some time outside, though they are not presently using the playground. They also eat lunch in the classroom before going home around noon.

Thomas said classroom teachers refer students to the program, and the intent of the program is to provide additional learning using a different approach in a smaller setting. She said some families chose not to participate, and there had been some changes to what was initially planned. She noted last year there were 300 students attending, but she is glad they were still able to provide the program.

The school district had to submit a plan for its hybrid model to the state for approval before starting, and she credited the teachers, success coaches and nursing staff who have been critical in making it a reality and who have had to be more fluid in their normal routines.

The program lasts four weeks.

Also starting on Monday was the extended school year program for students who receive special education services through their individualized education programs.