Back To School: Transitioning back to in-person instruction

Back To School

TRI-CITIES, Tenn./ Va. (WJHL) – Virtual learning options are sticking around in select school districts across the region for the students who want to stay online, but most students and teachers are happy to finally be back in the classroom and learning face to face, according to school officials. Virtual learning had its pros and cons and for the most part, what was learned online this past year will be carried into the Fall, just not entirely through a computer screen.

“All of the teachers are telling us that all of the tools that they learned to use during the pandemic and during remote instruction, they will continue learning all those tools as they transition back to in-person instruction. That includes recorded videos and being able to post information for students who are perhaps absent so that they can go back and watch those,” said Johnson City Schools Supervisor of Secondary and Instructional Technology, Dr. David Timbs.

With a new academic year on the horizon and in-person instruction so close to being back, teachers for the most part are looking forward to it.

“They’re all excited about that opportunity to get back and just get those students in their classrooms and work with them on a personal, one-on-one basis. So again, they’ve picked up a lot of great things that have helped, but they want that in-person and person-to-person contact,” said Director of Elizabethton City Schools, Richard Van Huss.

However, some school leaders fear returning to the classroom full time could be a rough transition for some considering the year they’ve had. The constant sporadic changes due to COVID-19 quarantines took a toll on teachers.

“Last year, our teachers lived in two different worlds, not only were they teaching the in-person students, but they were also responsible for providing instruction for those students they had in class that chose to stay at home,” said Bristol Virginia Public Schools Superintendent, Keith Perrigan.

In Johnson City, Timbs said checking on the well-being of both students and teachers is the utmost priority.

“It’s really important for us as we transition back, that we really focus on those first few weeks of re-establishing those ties to the school and those relationships that I think a lot of us knew were important, but we took for granted,” said Timbs.

Teachers aren’t the only ones who could struggle with the transition, but also students. Jared Rader, the Principal at Van Pelt Elementary in Bristol, Virginia says that’s why this transition back needs to go as smoothly as possible.

“For a lot of kids and for most students, school is their normal. Just the fact of coming back to school brings that sense of normalcy to the family, that sense of organization, that sense of planning that brings the normalcy back to their family and that in turn gives them a  whole lot better outlook on life, just by having them back here in school,” said Rader.

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