At the moment, Malden High is transitioning into their hybrid learning format, but unbeknownst to some people, elementary students across Malden have been in hybrid learning for a while already. Roughly a month ago, children as young as kindergarten, have started getting their first tastes of what in person learning was and soon will be. They have been on a similar schedule to what the high school is currently following, a cohort A and B, with no one in the schools on Wednesdays for cleaning.
Colleen Leshane, a paraprofessional at the Beebe K-8 School, has been with the kids in person when their hybrid schedule started. “[It has] been better than initially expected,” Leshane said when asked how working with the kids has been. Keeping in mind the fact that these are children who have never been in a school setting ever up until this past winter is quite mind blowing, even more so when you learn about how well they are doing.
Now, this raises the question: is their current hybrid format beneficial for them? Leshane believes that since “the kids have been home for so long that seeing them even at a distance, their personalities are developing.” Leshane and her colleagues are already seeing improvements in the way the kids behave that would not have been possible without the addition of hybrid learning to their first year of school.
As previously mentioned, the school has cleanings every Wednesday when everyone is home doing learning remotely. These cleanings are rigorous processes that are meant to ensure every germ is killed and the environment is safe for regular school activity. Leshane explained that she thinks that “Beebe has been extremely COVID safe and [feels] that the COVID measures are upheld very strongly [there].”
It seems likely that the workload during in-person learning has shifted in a way since March 2020. Having brand new students be in a school environment months later than was expected for them to start does not seem like something that would go unnoticed by the school system, hence ushering a shift in the narrative.
Leshane acknowledged that “it is hard at times to be able to function between in-person and remote.” She added that “it gets difficult to balance the two, the kids doing remote versus in person [cannot] physically see what each student needs.” The dynamic of remote learning and in-person learning is an interesting one that we have seen done a few times, but it is especially interesting considering how kindergarteners would approach that situation.
Considering the time this was initially being negotiated, COVID-19 was constantly fluctuating, having ups and downs, all over the place despite where you were in the world. That poses the question “was this a good time to start?” Leshane explained that the whole plan of reopening was planned around the rollouts of the vaccines. However, there was delay in the vaccine distribution “but everything turned out to be okay in the end.”
So far for elementary school, hybrid learning is working as fine as it can right now. The main takeaway is that children are learning and developing; that seems to be the most important thing for them during these strange times.