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SJSD touts hybrid learning as best course of action right now

“I know they aren’t doing this to try to upset people and make their lives more difficult. They’re doing it to try and help,” said Krystin Turner, SJSD parent.

Posted: Oct 7, 2020 7:26 AM
Updated: Oct 7, 2020 9:46 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Tuesday was the last day students in the St. Joseph School District will attend a "normal" in-person schedule. 

Two months into the school year, SJSD is switching up their teaching model and going hybrid. 

“I know they aren’t doing this to try to upset people and make their lives more difficult. They’re doing it to try and help,” said Krystin Turner, SJSD parent.

Parents were hit with the news Monday night and opinions have seemed to be split down the middle. 

“I think this is going to help cases, but is it going their education? I don’t know,” said Turner. 

Some parents worry they'll have to become teachers themselves, others praising the district for putting their child's safety first. Krystin Turner, mother of four with three kids in the district, said although her kids will be learning from home Wednesdays, she said it's not her workload she is worried about. 

“I feel for the teachers probably more than anyone right now. They’ve been thrown curveballs left and right. I think they’re the hardest working people right now besides the doctors and nurses. But, I do think it’s the right thing to do at this point,” said Turner.

SJSD administration said the sheer amount of staff having to quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to offer top tier education inside the classroom.

On the district's website, they report over 400 students and staff were in quarantine during the week of September 25 - October 1st. 

“We were short over 20 classroom teachers yesterday, so then what you’re able to offer in the classroom is not what you want to be able to offer,” said Dr. Doug Van Zyl, SJSD Superintendent. 

Dr. Van Zyl said he understands the frustration transitioning to hybrid learning, but said right now, this is the best option.  

"We realize it's a burden. It's a burden for us, but we also realize it's a burden for our students, our parents, our families and our community. Change is not something that a lot of people like or embrace. We'd rather not change, but we feel like this is the right thing to do," said Dr. Van Zyl. 

Turner said she's hoping next semester will be able to return to full in-person learning, but said this semester, she just wants a little bit of normalcy for her children. 

“As long as we’re in-person a little bit, I’m happy,” said Turner. 

Dr. Van Zyl said the hybrid teaching model will go until the end of October. At the end of the month, the Board of Education will evaluate and decide whether to extend the hybrid model, return to in-person learning or another form of teaching. 

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A strong cold front has made its way into northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas bringing much cooler air and a lot of clouds across the area. Friday night and Saturday the cold air will continue to be in place with daytime highs only reaching into the 40's. As the weekend continues we will see increasing chances for rain and maybe some snow. A cold start to the beginning of next week with highs only in the 30's and 40's.
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