South Bend charter schools ready for in-person learning

Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 5:42 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - A couple of South Bend charter schools are ready to return to in-person learning.

The Success and Career academies will welcome students back on Sept. 28.

“About 25 to 30 percent of our families will continue online, and then approximately 70 percent of our families will be in-person,” explained Superintendent Alex Hammel. “I think it tells us, you know, we’ve got an overwhelming majority of our families want to have their kids back in school.”

At the K-5 Success Academy students will learn in-person five days a week.

At the 6-12 Career Academy students will spend two days a week in the building.

The Success Academy is a firm believer in the face to face philosophy.

The preference is to provide online lessons live as opposed to of pre-recorded.

“A lot of our teachers, we’re ensuring that they have face to face instruction every day so our teachers are directly zooming with those kids because we’ve seen that that interaction of our teachers interfacing with those kids is powerful,” Hammel offered.

One teacher even bridged the digital divide by delivering dirt and other items to the homes of her students. Today, all took part in an online science experiment about seeds.

Now the decision has been made to take the next step: To bring students back into the building.

“In March I feel like that was the best decision, but now I just feel like we have all these like strategies in place to make this the safest spot that we can for them,” said 3rd grade English teacher Jessica Stoner. “I mean we’re ready. We’re ready for them to come back and with masks and hand sanitizer, like whatever we need to do I mean we’re ready to dig in.”

The Success Academy’s high ceilings, large classrooms, and advanced ventilation system played a role in the decision.

Students will wear masks inside while outdoor time will be maximized.

The school administration believes social distancing can be maintained while social growth takes place once again.

“I think especially for our youngest students there’s a lot of that social emotional learning that’s going on. So you know, imagine these young kids, their first experience. For some of them, literally their first experience with school and so that you know not being able to interact with kids in you know kind of a normal way,” said Hammel.

Together the academies have about 1,300 students. New student applications will be accepted through Thursday.

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