Meeting on the start of the new semester, the Anamosa school board members discussed with district administrators how the first day with (almost) everybody back in the halls of the Anamosa Middle School and Anamosa High School went during the Jan. 18 meeting.
Superintendent Larry Hunt said he was encouraged looking at the numbers of coronavirus cases in the area, though the school did have some students out currently, with 47 in quarantine at the high school—having sent another group home earlier in the day. Anamosa High School Principal Erin Thompson said with class lengths of 80 minutes now instead of 45 under the hybrid model, the district was working on how to best serve those students, who aren’t on for the entire 80-minute period.
More students out from school might be a new reality as the district returns to their in-person plan. With everyone back in the building, the social distancing is harder to achieve. Classrooms have been rearranged and more space has been added to the cafeteria, but those can only go so far. At the middle school, students are eating with their own classrooms to limit the numbers of people kids are exposed to.
In trying to keep students in the classroom, Hunt said ensuring proper mask-wearing was more important than ever. Thompson pointed to some positive numbers in that regard, at least on day one. If kids don’t have masks with them, they are rerouted through the office to pick one up. She estimated 12 per shift, or 24 a day, were handed out on average. On the first day back, that number was only five.
Those thoughts were backed up by the student representative on the board, Kelsey Scofield. She said she noticed masks were being worn better and seemed to be less of an issue on the first day. The only issue she noticed initially was getting some students to follow the arrows in the hallway, particularly when the new route resulted in a quite lengthy detour to get from point a to point b.
Not all of the students returned. Vaughn mentioned at the middle school that while half of the students that had been learning online had returned, two more had shifted to the online model due to health reasons. At the high school, some special accommodations have been made for those wanting to limit their exposure.
As the district entered this new phase, Hunt had a message of thanks for the Anamosa community, from staff, to students, to parents.
“Everybody’s cooperated with us. I know not everybody’s been happy about different decisions that have been made, but everybody has come together,” he said. “I know our job hasn’t really been easy this year, for any of us, but it definitely makes it better when people are willing to work together…I know there are other communities out there that haven’t been like that.”