Geneva D-304 school board affirms student learning during pandemic

'People are staying six feet apart and their masks are staying on'

GENEVA – Geneva District 304 School Board members affirmed Monday that students were learning a new routine while adjusting to the hybrid attendance days during the coronavirus pandemic.

Students from kindergarten to 12th grade attend school two to three times a week, divided up by last names. Students with last names from A to K will attend Monday, Wednesday and alternating Fridays and students with last names from L to Z will attend Tuesday, Thursday and alternating Fridays.

“I did hear a couple – some side conversations from friends and parents – that there wasn’t a lot of schoolwork going on (during) the off-site days,” Board President Taylor Egan said.

“One thing I think a parent and a community member needs to keep in mind is, we just started school. And the first couple days of (a) new school (year) – during a normal year – are routines and showing kids how we are supposed to do things in their new classroom,” Egan said. “And those are things that parents don’t see at all. And this year, they got a small glimpse of that, having their kids home every other day.”

So not having a lot to do on the second day of school does not say anything about that classroom or teacher for this year, Egan said

“It just means you’re seeing the little moments we don’t normally see – as a parent now – every other day,” Egan said.

“Things will ramp up. And I’ve already seen it with my own children at home. You also have to remember, as parents, that they’re in school for six hours a day. We don’t see everything in between the learning,” Egan said.

“There’s time – in a normal year, again – getting up from the desk, getting supplies, going down to a music class," she said. "Those things take time. And when you’re sitting at home in front of a computer –compressed into a small amount of time for one student – it may seem like there’s not a lot of things to do, but had they been in school on a regular year, that would fill up a day.”

Egan advised parents and community members to keep those things in mind as the school year goes along.

“Giving a little bit of grace for our staff and our teachers will go a long way and yes, things will go along, we will have more work to do at home,” Egan said. “Just keeping those things in mind.”

Board member Leslie Juby said she was thankful for all the hard work staff and administrators put into the current school year.

“All those years we wondered what our kids did in school? Now we know,” Juby said. “There’s all kinds of things people don’t factor in. I think this was a bad situation and I think we have risen to the occasion. It’s not perfect, but it’s a first day for everybody. It’s a first year of teaching for all the parents, it’s a first year of learning for all the students. … It’s a first year of riding a bus where you can’t sit where you want to sit.”

Egan added that in the beginning, people underestimated how seriously the students would take all the precautions about reducing the spread of the coronavirus.

“Every day, I’m picking up (students) at two different schools and I watch these kids go in and out of schools and they have their masks on,” Egan said.

When she asks her children how things are going in school, they affirm all the safety precautions.

“All I hear is how people are staying six feet apart and their masks are staying on. This is truly a team effort between everyone in the community. … I just hope that sense of social responsibility that we all have to make this work – it seems to be working now – and I hope it stays strong,” Egan said.

“Because without that sense of responsibility by every stakeholder, it all falls apart,” Egan said. “I would really encourage people to think about the bigger picture as they go about their days.”