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Minarets Takes First Steps to Return to Campus

By Aubrey Ham – Student Journalist for Minarets Press

While most classes are conducted online during this age of COVID-19, a few classes and groups of students are participating in something new called learning pods. Learning pods are small groups of students who come on campus because they may need more help and support from staff and their peers. Learning pods also include classes like advanced welding that need to be in person and require hands-on materials, so that students can learn at their full potential. Many student-athletes, like those in football, come to school to practice and then do their classes in a pod setting so that they can ask questions and even get tutoring.

Teacher Elizabeth Whitcomb works with students in learning pods, saying, “Oftentimes, what we’re finding is that students really can do the work. It’s that they’re not sure about what the task is asking them to do…what I’m doing is just checking in with kids and then giving some immediate feedback on their work.” Many students have trouble with online learning, as it can be hard to stay motivated and focused at home, so students now involved in learning pods are getting that opportunity to better focus on campus. Welding teacher Richard Chapman acknowledged this challenge, saying, “I think that a lot of students are struggling with staying motivated and disciplined during this online thing.”

Students of advanced Welding completed their OSHA 10 hour safety certification
Learning pods, however, still respect safety guidelines, requiring masks and social distancing. Senior Elliot Mercer is enrolled in the welding class and understands why the virus-related rules are strict. When talking about learning pods, he explains, “That group of people cannot mingle or interact with other pods. That way, if something happens, the school doesn’t have to worry about other pods being contaminated.” There is also a certain ratio of students to teachers to limit the number of people per room. The key is keeping students and teachers safe from a COVID-19 outbreak while still promoting learning and community.

Learning pods and other hybrid models of learning have become more popular as schools across the country navigate the best methods of teaching during a global pandemic. Learning pods have been giving students the feeling of community and the support they need during hard times. Teachers working on campus are even thankful for face-to-face time with students. “Personally, I’m very, very grateful that our district was allowed to get my classes back on campus,” said Chapman. Whitcomb also misses the Minarets students and hopes more students can get back to campus soon, at least in the form of more learning pods.

View the original article on Minarets Press: https://minaretspress4.wixsite.com/minaretspress/post/minarets-takes-first-steps-to-return-to-campus

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