New Berlin schools deal with returning students

Nichole Sheley, Lamp writer

On Aug. 18, New Berlin students went to the school for their class list and books for the fall semester, but then had to leave the building as they started with remote learning.

“We are currently doing remote instruction through Zoom for the district, but our students with IEPs, 504s, and who have been identified as being academically at-risk are in-person four days a week,” said Hattie Llewellyn, high school principal. “They are allowed to attend in person so that they are getting the extra help and support that they need.”

There are 45 students in both the junior high and high school who receive one-on-one or extra help every day but Wednesday. These students are bussed to and from the school. This is helpful for the students who need an extra study hall or testing help.

“Students that need extra help have the option to attend remotely or in person,” said Darren Cummings, junior high history/specialized instructor. “The students that require extra help and remain remote struggle with keeping up with the pace of Zoom meetings and often with technology of completing assignments.”

It’s always a challenge learning remotely through Zoom due to challenges with learning difficulties and technology issues.

“We are figuring it out and making progress each day,” said Lana Keen, high school English language arts and social science specialized instruction. “Of course, everyone who is in the building is wearing a mask and following social distancing procedures.”

Due to social distancing the procedures at the school, lunch does not make it ideal for the students to socialize well.

“They have assigned seating, which is 6 feet apart,” Llewellyn said.

Only 50 student fit in the cafeteria seated this way, she explained.

“They don’t get to talk a lot, and when walking the halls during passing periods, they have to maintain social distancing guidelines,” Llewellyn said.

Currently, the only students who have returned are those with serious disabilities who traditionally attend class separate from the rest of the student body.

“Each student sits on a marked ‘X,’ which has been measured from other ‘X’, so all students are 6 feet apart when they eat,” said Megan Yarko, specialized instructor. “We continue to just make sure students stay away from each other when possible and always using hand sanitizer and wiping desks down daily.”

A lot of the teacher don’t feel that their health is at risk, helping students face-to-face, and some are just skeptical about being face-to-face.

“If a staff member is working with a student, the staff member is masked, and if the student they are working with does not have a mask on, the staff member also has to wear a shield,” Yarko said. “I and my staff members do not feel our health is at risk at all meeting students face-to-face.”

Some students cannot tolerate masks for health reasons.

Keen said, “My biggest concern is being a carrier, and not knowing it.”

New Berlin schools recently returned for K-8 classes and plan to return soon for all high school students.