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Rochester school looks toward future

ROCHESTER (AP) — Recess at Longfellow Elementary School in Rochester seems pretty normal: Kids are running around in a big green field, climbing on the jungle gym and skipping rope.

But the school adopted a hybrid model of learning for the start of its school year, which began in July — so that means the kids are also wearing masks. And because students are only there in person for two days a week, the playground gaggle is a bit sparse. Most kids are at home doing distance learning.

“The kids have been extremely resilient. They really have been troupers through this new way of coming into school,” principal Amy Adams told Minnesota Public Radio News.

As school districts across Minnesota are looking ahead to the fall, now with guidance from the state, Longfellow offers a glimpse into what school might look like in September for some students across the state: masks on inside and outside the classroom, big stickers on the floor to remind kids to keep 6 feet apart and staggered dismissal times. These are just a few changes Longfellow has made to protect students and teachers from spreading coronavirus.

Longfellow is part of Rochester’s public school system, but is in session year-round, in school for 45 days and off for 15, with a summer break built in.

So these students went back to school in July — and: So far, so good, said Adams.

“Truly, the students are doing an amazing job,” she said. “It’s a new process and a new way for them to go about their school day.”

Meanwhile, teachers have had to change the way they work by keeping their distance from students.

“That’s a huge difference and has been one of the challenges. We know that good teaching involves movement and collaboration,” said Adams.

For teachers, there’s an added challenge of maneuvering three teaching models at once: in-person learning, hybrid learning and distance learning.

Adams says she’s not sure if Longfellow will continue its current model into the fall. The state’s guidance suggests schools move to universal distance learning if the number of coronavirus cases in their area gets too high.

Meanwhile, Rochester Public Schools has put together a blueprint for three learning scenarios this fall, but has yet to settle on one.

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