Nearly half of Houston Christian School’s students are back in class, albeit on a limited basis due to COVID-19 health guidance, reports its principal.
“At least 45 per cent, probably around 50 per cent,” says Wendall Ewald of the school’s 160 students from K to 12 as in-class instruction increased the first week of June.
That’s substantially higher than the average 30 per cent recorded by the provincial education ministry among public schools province-wide for the first week of June.
It’s a sign of the eagerness of students to reconnect with classmates but also a sign of confidence from the parents of students that the school has health guidance safety measures in place.
“It’s just been really nice for us all to have the kids back, joking around and reconnecting, seeing their friends,” said Ewald.
There’s a plentiful supply of hand sanitizer and classroom desks are spaced appropriately apart to respect physical distancing.
Following the general closure of schools to in-class instruction in mid-March, Ewald said staff and teachers put a lot of work into shifting to an on-line environment.
“The word unique keeps coming up but what we’ve been saying is that we’ve been building the bridge as we walk over it,” Ewald said.
The shift to on-line instruction put both students and teachers into a “learning as we go mode” with the school farming out laptop and iPad technology it had to ensure as many students as possible were connected.
“Facebook postings, Zoom meetings, Microsoft Teams …. it was a lot of learning,” Ewald commented.
With more than 30 years of teaching experience behind him, Ewald said he himself was challenged to adapt.
“For us older guys, it was a lot of learning,” he said.
The immediate challenge on the part of the school and its teachers was making that crucial first contact with students and then building instruction from there.
And with on-line instruction in hand, students rotating through the school now have the benefit of personal contact with teachers, said Ewald.
For students learning at home, the school now has a noon to 2 p.m. pick up and drop off time established for written material and instructions.