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INDEPENDENCE — The first day of school was different this year in most households. Restrictions in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 have meant a delay on in-person classes for students in K-12 grades.

Over the summer, Christal Sperling started planning to have her daughter Scarlett start second grade with a few classmates, also in the Central School District. She was going to form a pandemic pod — still doing distance education through the public school system with the guardian in each household taking on school responsibilities for one day each week.

That changed in the first week, after delays and technological glitches.

“The district was really great at communication,” Sperling said. “Leading up to the week before school, we received daily communication about the start of classes and updates on the K12Fueled education. Unfortunately, this was mostly an update saying it would be postponed.”

Scarlett didn’t have first day of school, she said.

“On Thursday, when we could not log on to the first day of school, we were upset that she was missing such an important day of meeting her peers virtually and doing work with her class,” Sperling said. “I decided at this point this was not at all what I wanted her school to be like, with missed classes, tech issues, and frustrations.”

There were no openings in the charter schools Sperling checked. They enrolled her in Santiam Christian School in Adair Village.

“There was one opening in second grade,” Sperling said. “When the admissions clerk emailed me with that information, I was ecstatic!”

The process moved swiftly from there. The family received a packet of information on Friday, Sept. 18 and on Monday, Scarlett had an hour-long meeting with a second-grade teacher for a placement evaluation, Sperling said.

The next day, they met with Scarlett’s new teacher.

“She explained how the school day would work, how their virtual academy worked, and gave us a tour of the classroom,” Sperling said.

Scarlett started school that Wednesday.

There was in-person instruction for two hours a day, with 10 or fewer children per cohort, Sperling said.

“There is supplemental instruction done virtually through a learning academy called See Saw,” Sperling said. “I really liked this program. It requires the students to be very engaged in the assignments with video or voice recordings.”

At the end of September, they were able to have full-day in-person instruction for some students.

Sperling shared an email from the school which said, they “received approval for grades K-6 to open for face-to-face instruction under the child care model.”

“Our Preschool has been meeting for two weeks now, and will continue, but the rest of our elementary students will also be able to be on campus daily for the full day,” the email stated.

They started full days on Sept. 28.

“It’s going great!,” Sperling said. “We are so happy and she has really embraced her new teacher and friends.”

Distance learning has been easier for her children who are in high school.

“My high school students started their classes on Sept. 22,” Sperling said. “Both had a great experience. The programs worked fine for them. The participation is good, the teachers are there and vested and ready.”

Communication has been great, Sperling said.

“These teachers communicated with the students daily to help ease anxieties and everything else,” she said. “The PSP teachers also held a conference in person or virtually to meet each students family.”

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