Back to classrooms in Estacada
With numerous hand sanitizer dispensers and signs directing one way traffic in the hallways, it looks a bit different than usual, but some Estacada High School students have returned to the building for hybrid learning.
Estacada High School and Estacada Middle School began offering limited hybrid instruction Thursday, Feb. 18.
"There's really positive energy. Teachers are excited to have students in front of them in the building," said Estacada High School Principal Amy Hudson.
For the week of Feb. 22, the high school served a total 150 students divided into two cohorts for hybrid learning. The first group of students to return included some seniors, students with limited internet connectivity and students served by student services.
School leaders hope to welcome additional students to hybrid learning every few weeks. On Monday, March 1, the rest of the seniors returned, along with some of the school's newest students based on the freshman on track to graduate data.
Approximately 20% of students opted to continue with comprehensive distance learning for the remainder of the school year.
At Estacada Middle School, Principal Ben Hargrave noted that about 45 students had been participating in limited in-person instruction this semester. On Feb. 18, the number of students in the building included two cohorts of 72 students. This number increased to 144 in each cohort on Monday, March 1. Similar to the high school, additional middle students will be phased back into the building every few weeks.
Between 15-18% of Estacada Middle School families opted to continue with comprehensive distance learning.
"We're so happy to see students," Hargrave said. "We have some teachers who hadn't met their students (in person) yet. It allows us to continue to build that relationship piece that we can build off of."
Additional safety precautions in school buildings include mandatory mask wearing, a daily health questionnaire, temperature checks, distanced tables and desks, signs to ensure social distancing and hand sanitizer dispensers.
"We've talked a lot about safety," Hudson said.
Heather Treanor, a high school English teacher and president of the Estacada Education Association, said the transition has been going smoothly.
"It's nice to go slowly to work out any potential kinks," she added. "It's been nice to take the time to work with students and also be prepared to welcome more back into the classroom."
The majority of classes have one or two students in-person, though some courses have up to ten.
"Most teachers have been doing the same thing they've been doing, they just have a few kids in their classroom," Treanor said. "We can help those kids a little bit more."
She thinks it's helpful that students are being brought back in phases, rather than all at once.
"I appreciate that building leadership is going slowly and ensuring that we have a good plan in place. I'm excited to see how the plan plays out with more students on campus," she said.
On Wednesday, Feb. 24, Estacada High School seniors Mara Eakin, Lizzie Smith, Julia Griffith and Julia Gomez were eating lunch while socially distanced in the school's front commons.
"It's nice to see people again, and get to meet new people," said Bresko, discussing the return to hybrid learning.
Along with additional safety precautions, another change they've noticed this year is more use of technology.
"There's so much technology. I've barely touched a pencil this year," said Smith.
Though it's been an unusual school year in many ways, they appreciate that school leaders have found ways to safely allow students to continue with activities like the full musical and sports.
Hargrave is grateful for the flexibility community members have shown this year.
"I'm thankful for the entire community, and everyone's efforts, patience and flexibility," he said.
Hudson added teachers appreciate the opportunity to interact with students face-to-face again.
"That's what we've all missed the most," she said.
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