By Penelope K. & Silas P.
On April 6th Hampton Elementary School welcomed third through fifth graders back into the building for hybrid learning.
Four hundred thirty three students choose the hybrid learning option, and 212 students chose to remain virtual. The students are separated into three cohorts. Cohort A comes to the school building on Mondays and Tuesdays and Cohort B comes to the school building on Thursdays and Fridays. Cohort C students remain virtual, just think of it as “C stands for computer.” Wednesdays remain asynchronous for all students. Cohort C students continue to use the Google Meet platform to learn from their teachers while Cohorts A and B learn in the classroom and the Google Meets are projected on Promethean Boards. Hybrid students attend their special area classes, such as art and music, in those classrooms. Students attend lunch with the grade level in the cafeteria.
Hampton is taking a lot of safety precautions for their hybrid students. Everyone in the school building must wear a mask during the school day, except when eating lunch in the cafeteria. Students maintain social distance in the hallways and in the classrooms. There are footprints in the hallways to encourage appropriate space and smiley face stickers in the cafeteria to keep students spread apart while eating. Visitors are not allowed in the building .
Despite the precautions and the excitement to be back in the building, hybrid learning has presented some challenges. Students must remain masked all day, which can be a big adjustment for students who were not used to wearing them. It can also be difficult to hear each other talking. It’s difficult for teachers to teach two groups at the same time.
“It’s hard to juggle both online and in person students but it’s great to see the kids,” said Mrs. Towner, the art teacher at Hampton.
Another huge challenge is issues with technology. One issue is that virtual students and students in the building have difficulty hearing each other. Another issue is the bandwidth that it takes to operate Google Meets for all students. Last week, the internet in Baltimore County schools went out and virtual students had to work asynchronously.
Although there have definitely some challenges, the Hampton school community is happy to have teachers and students back in the building.
“I have heard that our children love being back and seeing friends,” said Mrs. Kaiser, the principal at Hampton. “We have a lot of new children who have never attended Hampton, so they are excited to be in the building.”