HANNIBAL | Hannibal Public Schools announced Aug. 24 that the start of school would be delayed until Sept. 8, but several local, private schools welcomed students back to in-person classes this past week after transitioning to online classes last spring.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, educators considered alternates to face-to- face learning including online classes or a hybrid model. For Holy Family Catholic School and St. John's Lutheran School in Hannibal, it was important to return to the classroom.
Sara Hooley, principal of Holy Family, said in-person classes are crucial.
“We know that face-to-face instruction is one of the most essential components to learning,” Hooley said. “Our kids need that interaction with others. We should be together, and if we can be, that's what we want.”
In addition to sanitization and social distancing protocols, Holy Family has implemented stable groups – a designated group of people students will closely interact with daily.
St. John's Lutheran School also began in-person classes with temperature checks, modified lunch shifts and regular classroom sanitation.
On Aug. 26, Bobbi Jo Tucker dropped her kids off at St. John's for the first time since March.
“They're very thankful to be back in school,” Tucker said. “I'm thankful for the preparation the school did to make it safe.”
St. John's administrator JoAnne Conoyer praised teachers and staff for making the return to the classroom successful.
“We know it's going to be a difficult year,” Conoyer said. “We are learning new technology and the teachers have stepped up. They have been amazing.”
Technology at St. John's includes See-Saw and Google Classroom. Apple televisions in classrooms also assist in remote learning. In the event classes are moved online, this technology can ease the transition.
“We're learning how to use technology more in the classroom, so we're preparing the students for if we have to use it in the future,” St. John's kindergarten teacher Kristin Adcock said.
Due to the rapidly changing nature of COVID- 19, educators remain ready to adapt.
“I anticipate just being flexible this year and being aware that things might have to change, and we are ready if we have to transition to athome distant learning,” Hooley said.
Holy Rosary Catholic School in Monroe City also has begun in-person classes, and Zion Lutheran Preschool in Palmyra began classes with an alternating schedule.