Tri-Valley School District moves to 4-day week

Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 9:52 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -School districts have been working hard to come up with their back-to-school plans and each one is a little different. The Tri-Valley School District has opted for a four-day school week.

Superintendent Mike Lodmel says the idea came about because it would help with bussing costs from the new bus monitor position the district added because of COVID-19. As well as help with the cost of an extra school nurse.

“Students will report earlier this year on the Monday through Thursday and then they will not be in school obviously on Friday. And that will be more of a day used for deep cleaning here. As well as a day that staff will be able to teach those distance learning courses to the students who elect to do the homebound instruction,” said Lodmel.

Lodmel says around four percent of students have opted for the distance learning option.

The four-day school week is something teachers on campus are looking forward to.

“This is really going to help our teachers to be better prepared for this roller coaster ride of a school year that we are about to embark on,” said Tri-Valley High School Teacher Amber Fluth.

“I think that the Fridays are going to, of course, allow our teachers to look at our lesson plans and how we can adapt them to a socially distanced environment.”

It's also a time for teachers to focus on helping students who are learning outside the classroom.

“I am expecting to be in video conferences with our kids who are out of the building. I’m expecting to be communicating with them through email and to be communicating with their families as well on those Fridays,” said Fluth.

The extra day will be especially beneficial for Kynedi Cheeseman who is a first-time teacher.

“I’ll use those Fridays to really plan with my fifth-grade team and use that extra time to get my classroom ready for my students coming in the next week. That extra time for me will help me feel less stressed about the school year and just stay calm for my students,” said Cheeseman.

While Cheeseman is excited to be teaching, her first school year will be different than she anticipated.

“In my classroom, I had always wanted to do grouped seating, but this year it’s different. I have to have all my kids facing forward and my desks spread apart as far as they can,” said Cheeseman.

But she won't be alone in trying to navigate the year.

“This is my 21st year of teaching, but I feel like a brand new teacher all over again,” said Fluth.

“Everything is going to need to look different. So some of the best practices that I know are best practices with kids aren’t socially distant. So I need to rethink, how do I bring kids together in groups? How do we have discussions? How do we use our materials differently?”

However, teachers are confident they'll figure it out.

“It’s not always a normal day when you’re teaching, so you’re used to having to make adjustments. So we just continue to make adjustments as we go and we’re going to do the best we can because everybody wants to be back in school for as long as we can,” said Brandon DeWitt, a Tri-Valley 7th and 8th Grade Social Studies Teacher.

School starts August 19th for the Tri-Valley School District.

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