On March 16th, Potosi School District, and hundreds of school districts statewide, shut down because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. This shutdown made students and staff question what to do next. How would school go on without being physically allowed into school buildings? With everything up in the air, teachers began to create a plan for their students. This plan included Zoom meetings, the use of Schoology, and many emails shared between students and teachers. The plan from March has helped students and staff better prepare for the possibility of another shutdown driven by COVID during the 2020-2021 school year.
With everything so uncertain, students begin to take things one step at a time with the guidance of their teachers virtually. No one knew what to do or how to approach this new way of learning. This unexpected shutdown caused staff and students to question what will happen next. High school English teacher Mr. Fry claims that as a school district, “we were not expecting such a sudden shutdown.” With little to no time to prepare, staff members did everything they could to take what they use in their classrooms and use it online. Teachers at Potosi were giving materials and connecting with their students as early as the second day of quarantine, unlike most surrounding schools.
If the District is shut down again, Fry believes that “we have a much better plan now,” which includes a schedule for the students and staff to follow. This schedule sets up specific times for students to attend class online through Zoom. Social Studies teacher Mrs. Hutchcroft came up with a schedule with alternating days tosplit up the class periods within the time frame of two days. Some teachers may require their students to attend their Zoom class every day, while others may only meet during their scheduled time. If students are not required to attend that class for that day, teachers are making themselves available for any questions that the students may have. Attendance and accountability are a must this time around to help keep students engaged and accountable for their work.
Another struggle that comes with online teaching is that it is harder to connect with students, to set specific expectations, and to make students feel comfortable. Grading students on their work that they put together online instead of in-person is a change. With little guidance or assistance from a teacher, Mr. Fry said that he is going to try to “give quality feedback” to his students in regards to their work. It is important to know how to be flexible and be able to adjust, especially in times like these. As flexibility is given to students during this time, responsibility and ownership are also expected of the students.
As quarantine hit, teachers were thrown into this whole new role of juggling teaching online while dealing with the distractions at home. Mr. Fry says that being at home “flipped his world” because he went from teaching during the day to feeling like “a stay-at-home dad with a night job.” This feeling came from taking care of his children all day and doing his teaching duties, sending emails and grading assignments, at night. Just like any other teacher at Potosi Schools, Mr. Fry says that “he would rather teach in person.”
Just like Mr. Fry, Potosi sophomore Emily Bierman claims that she would rather learn in person too. On September 17, Emily and her volleyball team were sent into quarantine right before their volleyball game due to being exposed to COVID. Emily was not a fan of learning online because she claimed that “learning online is much harder than learning in person.” For Emily, online learning looked a lot different in March than it does now. She says that now “you have to show up for class online, where in March, we just had to do the homework given.” Not only does Emily prefer to attend school in person for learning purposes, but also to be in school to be with her friends. If COVID does shut down the school in the future, Emilly will prepare better by keeping a positive attitude. Although the District has a plan if we do shut down again, everyone would prefer to be here at school.