BACK TO SCHOOL: Wichita begins hybrid learning for middle and high School students

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WICHITA, Kan (KSNW) –The Sedgwick County positivity rate is at 8.5% Monday. The downward trend is one of the reasons why some Wichita students returned to in-person learning

After almost a year of learning from home, some high school seniors said getting back into the classroom means everything.

“It’s really empty. but it feels amazing to be back here,” said Rylee Jerke, a senior at Northwest High School

“It’s good to see my friends all the time now,” said Kaleb Coleman, a senior at Northwest High School.

On Monday 1/3 of the middle school and high schoolers in Wichita Public Schools returned. Walking the hallways they haven’t seen since March. Senior Rylee Jerke said she is ready to be back.

“Being stuck at home with my family has been really hard on me and my mental health, which is the way for a lot of high schoolers. Like you want to be around people your own age, and it’s hard when you’re not,” said Jerke.

“It’s not all just books and computers and academics. Certainly, a large part of what they are drawn to is the social aspect of it,” said Eric Hofer-Holdeman, the Principle of Northwest High School.

Right now the district is in a hybrid model. With half the students going on Monday and Tuesdays and the other half on Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesday everyone is remote.

“We wanted to take precautions, bring students back at a slower pace until we have that vaccine in our arms. And then we will be ready to then talk about what’s next for the Wichita Public Schools,” said Alicia Thompson, the superintendent of Wichita Public Schools.

While the district said safety comes first. One principal said the return to class has come with mixed reactions from the staff.

“But there is that faction that is nervous, anxious, not sure about safety measures, not sure about exposure. But we are doing everything we can to make sure that those staff members do feel safe and make sure that the students are safe,” said Hofer-Holdeman.

“It was good just to be inside the building. Good to see everything one last time for I got to college,” said Coleman.

The superintendent said she expects the school to remain in the hybrid model for a while. Teachers are in phase two of the vaccination plan, but it is still unclear when they will be allowed to get the shots.

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