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GFW board discusses learning options

Stays with in-person learning for now

GIBBON — The Gibbon Fairfax Winthrop (GFW) School Board discussed learning model options to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic with staff and Superintendent Jeff Horton Tuesday.

Board members favored sticking with everyday, in-person learning for now, but showed interest in being able to shift to another format if they feel it’s necessary later.

Parents in the GFW district have the option of having their children do distance learning if they prefer it.

Horton presented four learning models, including using distance learning for preschool through grade 12, distance learning for all students except special education, English Language Learners and students at risk; in-person learning through grade three and special education, ELL and students at risk and dividing classes in half or staying with daily in-person learning for all students.

“Thank you to students, parents and staff for all your work at a very difficult time,” Horton said. “The data shows we’ve been very safe in school but there are lots of community events going on involving students age 14 and up.”

Horton said one infected person could put a whole class in quarantine.

Board chairman Phil Klenk said having everyone in school provides a measure of infection rates.

Several board member including student representative Baleigh Peterson said they favored in-person learning for all students. Marisa Lee said she was concerned about student mental health.

School principals said teachers were split on what type of learning model they preferred but that they would work with what the board decides to do.

Elementary principal Jennifer Thompson said most teachers favor spreading out prekindergarten to fourth grade classes.

Board member Jason Haas and several other board members said they felt students would do better in school and that doing what’s best for students was most important.

Horton said he is looking for more paraprofessionals and bus drivers and invited applicants to do both jobs if they wanted to.

As many as 158 people watched the meeting on the school district’s Facebook site. As many as 81 people watched the meeting on Zoom.

(Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).

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