Dexter is back in the classroom at the middle and high schools

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photo from Mill Creek Middle School

Cautiously optimistic while being flexible are some of the key words of the COVID pandemic era.

One place where this is true is inside Dexter High School and Mill Creek Middle School, especially now that some of the students have come back into the classrooms after months of virtual learning from home.

On Jan. 28, both of these Dexter schools went back into the classrooms as part of a hybrid model that combines virtual learning on some days with in-person on others. Some students remain in a virtual learning mode.

“It’s fantastic to have students back in the building,” said DHS Principal Kit Moran, who said it’s been a little surreal at times over the past 10 months, especially with teachers teaching, but with no students in the building.

Jami Bronson, Mill Creek principal, had a similar sentiment.

“The staff has been super excited to have our students back in the building and so far the return has been going very well,” she said.

Both said a great deal of behind-the-scenes work went into planning the return to in-person learning.

“Our building and grounds staff assisted with installing signs throughout the building and rearranging furniture to promote social distancing between staff and students,” Bronson said. “All of our staff had training on safety and cleaning protocols and set up their classrooms to follow the recommended social distancing guidelines.”

As an example, Moran said if one was to walk through the school you would see the stairways are one-way while there are roundabouts in the hall, all the while students are masked up and keeping a social distance. He said the traffic jams of the past in the hallways are not happening right now.

photo from Dexter High School

In the lunch room, which is a place where there is some concern because there will be around 100 kids eating with masks off at times, there are measures put in place to help ensure social distancing.

Since coming back, Moran said there have been some students who have opted to go back into full virtual learning for their own specific reasons. He said they respect this and want families to do what’s right for them.

All the while, the teachers continue to adapt as they work hard to make it all come together. One teacher challenge is talking through their masks a good portion of the day.

Bronson said Mill Creek’s secretarial staff put in countless hours building schedules for A/B day assignments and distributing safety items such as masks, gloves, and cleaning supplies prior to the students return.

“We are so very thankful for the help and support teachers, para-educators, secretaries, Food and Nutrition, Buildings and Grounds, and the transportation department have provided in preparing for students and their return to the buildings,” Bronson said. “There are a multitude of variables and safety protocols that need to be accounted for when teaching in a pandemic. I am so thankful for the DCS team and the help everyone has provided.”

Both principals said students have been incredibly responsible with adhering to the safety guidelines.

“The students were yearning for a return to the building,” Bronson said. “They have been very excited to see their peers and teachers in person and our families have done a wonderful job instilling the importance of following protocols for the safety of themselves and others.”

She added, “The staff have been absolutely amazing in providing a safe and engaging atmosphere.”

“It’s been wonderful for our staff to see the kids and their faces in the classrooms. For the past several months they often were able to only see a screen name,” said Bronson. “Staff go into teaching because they have a true love for working with children. Being able to have the kids back in the classroom has been a true bright spot for them in these very unique times.”

As they move forward, Moran said it’s their hope that they can continue the hybrid model along with virtual learning.

Each week, he said they keep an eye on the COVID data and know things could change.

“We are cautiously optimistic,” he said.

photo from Mill Creek Middle School
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