It’s been just over a month since Beatrice Public Schools returned to in-person learning, and school administrators reflected on how it’s going during a school board meeting Monday night.
Beatrice High School Assistant Principal, Philip Voigt, discussed some changes made due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including making hallways one-directional, and allowing fewer students per table in the lunchroom.
The district is in phase two of its action plan, which includes randomly screening students for COVID-19 symptoms. Voigt estimated that 60 temperature checks are done each morning as students enter the building. He said the biggest change was transitioning to block scheduling.
“We decided that it would make more sense, if we’re going to do all these little things that we’re doing, that we would have kids in the hallways transitioning around less,” Voigt said. “So we went to a block schedule, which means we have four periods a day instead of eight periods or 90 minutes.”
Voigt said he’s mainly heard positive feedback from students, that the scheduling allows classes more time together to build relationships and cover more content. He said some students have voiced that it’s a long time to be sitting, but that teachers have incorporated mask breaks and other ways to get kids moving.
“I’ve seen classrooms outside every period, which is awesome to see,” Voigt said. “I’m hoping that some of these changes, such as going outside, continue even after [COVID-19] is gone. I think it’s an excellent opportunity to see what we can do outside instead of just sitting and lecturing.”
Voigt said teachers have also spent time preparing students to learn online in the event the school moves to remote learning.
“We really feel like we’ve spent a lot of time preparing,” Voigt said. “I would love to say that it’s been rainbows and butterflies and everything’s been incredible. It’s been pretty darn close. The kids have been awesome. The staff has fully embraced it, the kids have embraced it and I think that we’re off to a really good school year, with the way that it is.”
The board’s newest student member, Colt Dittbrenner, said students are excited to be back to in-person learning, as well as school activities, noting the recent wins of several sports teams.
“It is so nice to be back in school and see kids doing what they love to do and participating in things they love to participate in,” Superintendent Jason Alexander said. “Hats off to our staff for, as Phil mentioned, making all the adjustments that have come along with the situation that we’re in. Hopefully, we can put that in the rearview mirror here shortly and move forward.”
Alexander also updated the board on other fall school activities. He said in meeting with vocal music director Kelly Meyer, BHS Principal Jason Sutter, and activities director Neal Randel, it was determined on Monday that the high school’s fall musical will moved to February of 2021. Alexander said he, Assistant Superintendent Jackie Nielsen and the district’s principals will meet in the coming weeks to make a determination about fall and winter concerts.