PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As schools face the new normal, some are choosing to bring only some grades back to buildings. One Philadelphia charter school on Monday welcomed back its youngest students for in-person learning while other students will remain virtual at this point.
So how are they balancing this hybrid learning situation?
It felt like a real first day of school for kids at Ad Prima Charter Schools in Mt. Airy and Overbrook as kindergarten and first-graders headed back into the classroom for the first time in months.
“They came to the building today for in-person instruction and they’ll receive a full day instruction every day Monday through Friday. Just that small number separated them into very small groups of about 10 or under in each classroom,” said Ad Prima CEO Niya Blackwell.
For the past two weeks, students have been learning remotely, and second through eighth-graders will continue to do so. Educators say it was important to get the youngest students back inside for the in-person classroom experience.
“What we learned is that the younger kids struggled more. Online learning has a lot of great opportunities for developing independence and project management skills but it’s also something which takes time to go and develop,” said Principal David Brown.
Limiting screen time and adding breaks is important to virtual learning settings.
“As teachers, we are planning things for the students to go ahead and do away from the screen and giving them breaks for the bathroom, water, you know, just moments to be away from the screen,” said Jennifer Johns.
Teachers, staff and parents are trying to find a delicate balance between what used to work and adjusting to what works now, lending support socially, physically and mentally.
“It’s a balance and it allows us to teach in what was once a normal way for these students, while also still using the computer when necessary,” said Principal Jamal Elliott.
“We do have our counselor on our leadership team going and making recommendations, meeting with students. We also have an outside agency that we work with that provides direct instruction to our students in social-emotional learning,” Brown said. “I think the big aspect is giving our kids outlets such as lunch bunches where they can sit down and have lunch together.”
They’re trying to create as much of a sense of normalcy, both in-person learning and virtual learning, for the students in their school.
Meantime, they also tell us that for those kids back in school, the little ones who may not understand what social distancing is or the importance of masking. They’ll be practicing those things this week so they get used to what’s becoming the new normal for them.