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On March 29, Mounds View will welcome back high school students for full in-person learning. The school is preparing to take in as many students as possible, but distance learning remains an option for many. Still, many questions have arisen among students pertaining to safety, adapted standards and changes that will have to be made.
While the progression back to in-person learning may be seen as sudden, the staff has been planning for the return to in-person learning.
“State guidelines suggest in-person learning for high schools when the case number [number of cases per 10,000 people] is between 0 and 10, Blended learning when the numbers are between 10 and 30 and distance learning [when the case number is] above 30,” said Alex Hinseth, COVID Coordinator. “In the most recent data, which comes out every two weeks, Ramsey County is around 15 cases per 10,000 [people].”
The numbers indicated to district leadership that it would be safe to return to in-person school by the end of March, which is why the final decision was made.
In the hybrid model, there are around 600 students in the building a day, and in the full-time in-person model, that number will jump to around 1100 students. Following this, it became evident that social distancing will need to be enforced, as well as new safety protocols.
“Students will still be spaced out 6 feet apart, but if that is not possible because of numbers and space, 3 feet will be the standard,” Hineseth said. “Lunch seating will need to be documented if 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained. [However,] we will need to know our final number of students coming back in-person before we determine if this will be necessary.”
Despite the new option, some students have decided to remain online for various reasons. “Trying to social distance in the small classrooms with lots of people is hard, and I don’t trust high schoolers to wear masks,” said Ben Wiggenhorn, 10.
Wearing masks, for many, is a recurring problem in returning back to school. “I find that many people in the school aren’t that amazing at keeping their masks up,” said Austin Han, 10.
Other students disagree, believing that staying in online school just does not meet their educational standards.
“The biggest problem with distance learning is there are many distractions and little help because teachers have other students and classes to work with,” said Abdimahad Gure, 11. “If it was in-person, your teacher would be in class with you and [could help you] whenever you needed help, they are willing to help. They also try to minimize distraction around you whether it’s using your phone or talking with people [in person].”
Many students agree. “With the amount of students struggling with distance learning, whether it be issues at home [or other] distractions, it has become necessary at this point,” said Sarah Bassas, 10.
Regardless of whether a student is attending in-person or remaining online, Mounds View’s main objective is to create a positive learning environment. “Primary focus will continue to be on making sure students and staff are able to stay healthy,” Hinseth said. “Having more people in the building obviously makes that more challenging, but I’m confident in our ability to ensure a learning environment where the transmission of COVID, while always possible, is limited.”