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Anamosa

When looking back on the year that was 2020, Anamosa Superintendent Larry Hunt expressed a sentiment likely shared by many about the year.

“I’m looking forward to 2021,” he said. “I think better times are in front of us, and I just want to get there.”

In the months since March, Hunt said there have been a lot of lessons learned. When schools were initially shut down, there were hardly any cases in the state. Locally, there have been a few cases a day recorded as the district looks at reopening fully in the time since then.

“I think over this time we’ve learned a variety of things,” he said. “Last March, it was new to everybody. We really didn’t know what was going to happen. Now, we have a much better idea of what’s happening. I think our hospitals and medical personnel are getting better at treating cases.”

Hunt said he remembered conversations early on about people thinking that the summer was going to kill off the virus and normalcy would return in the fall, but there have been unforeseen impacts as it drags on into 2021.

The district has used a hybrid learning at the middle school and high school and in-person learning at Strawberry Hill Elementary. The focus has remained getting kids to a point where students and teachers were back face to face, believing in large part that was where the best learning takes place for most kids inside the structure of a “normal” school day.

While there were bumps in the road early with the hybrid model, the results thus far have presented some interesting data in terms of learning and behavior, with some students achieving at much higher levels than normal under this model, and behavioral issues were way down. While the reasoning behind that isn’t exactly clear, down the road, the result could be a fundamental change to the way schools approach the topic of education.

“Our educational system was put together years and years and years ago to make it fit an agricultural and industrial society,” Hunt said. “We’re much different as a society today then we were when our educational system was developed, and we just haven’t changed that much.”

While the conversation is an intriguing one, one worth having and one that will be had, legislative changes would have to be made to allow for any such adaptation.

When it comes to how society dealt with the virus, Hunt isn’t sure we’ll ever know whether the right moves were made and how things like buying into the effectiveness of masks sooner would have impacted things.

“There’s been a lot of changes that’s going to impact a lot of people for the rest of their lives,” he said. “Hopefully, out of a ton of bad things, something good comes, and I hope we start to see that something good here in the near future.

“I don’t know what that’s going to be yet, but hopefully, the turn of the calendar’s a little better to us than the year 2020.”

As the vaccine begins to roll out in the beginning of 2020, Hunt said he hopes the answer to the question caused by the coronavirus is as simple as the vaccination and that the public takes it.

“Hopefully, that’s the answer to get us all back to normal,” he said.

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