‘They’re excited to be back’: USD 259 students return to in-person learning during pandemic

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita elementary and pre-K students returned to in-person learning on Wednesday and Thursday.

KSN spoke to Chris Wendt, USD 259 executive director of elementary schools, who said many kids have never been more excited to return to school and that is helping with their learning.

“They used words like joyful, and they used words like seamless, and they used words like bucket-filling, so it’s been a great week,” said Wendt.
After going fully remote late last year, elementary school kids are once again back in their classrooms.

“It’s been really truly great. I was out in buildings this week and a lot of kids to me personally said that they were excited to be back and happy to see their teachers and see their classroom,” said Wendt.

Wendt said since the return of in-person learning, he’s seen an increase in morale.

“And the new teachers are always ready to welcome new kids,”

He says although the “new normal” may look a bit different this time around, students have become more understanding of social distancing and safety protocols.

“We wanted to ensure that we kept the face-to-face classes small, so in some cases, we did have to have students move to a different teacher to make that happen.”

Wendt believes by the time middle schoolers and high school students come back on January 25, students and staff will have an even better understanding of how to make in-person learning more comfortable.

“For example, at the high school level, we know that we have elongated schedules. Students in high school are doing 4 by 4 and what that means is that they go to classrooms for longer periods of time and have fewer classes during the day to cut down on those transitions so we don’t have as many opportunities for kids to intermingle and it keeps our social distance more spread out,” said Wendt.

When middle and high school students return, it will be a blended model.
Half are in person Monday and Tuesday. The other half will be in school Thursday and Friday, with Wednesday as a remote day for everyone.    

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