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Alpine schools begin school year, host learning pods

Posted at 4:31 PM, Aug 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-26 21:08:53-04

ALPINE, Calif. (KGTV) - For some students in Alpine, the first week of school has meant distance learning pods inside a school, hosted by their school district.

Like for so many kids, the switch to distance learning in March was tough for 8-year-old Ashlyn, according to her mother Stephanie Green.

"She thrives more when she's with her peers. One-on-one with me and her just didn't really work as well," said Green.

So when distance learning was mandated to begin the school year, there was disappointment, and then came a different reaction.

"I thought thought it was great. It was really innovative," said Green.

Photos sent to ABC 10News reveal what the first week of school looked like for nearly 100 students in the Alpine Union School District.

Inside one school gym, there was a distance learning pod with Ashlyn and seven other kids, in the 1st, 3rd and 4th grades. Set up by the district, the pods are being held on school grounds. Students are separated by plexiglass dividers. A substitute teacher is on hand to guide them through the process. Parents in the pods take shifts supervising the kids, making sure they get breaks outside.

About half of the learning pods are within their before-and-after-school care programs, expanded into a 10-and-a-half hour days.

"The learning pods are a good way to have a bit normalcy to begin the school year," said Green.

Despite initial concerns, the county officials tells ABC 10News the district-hosted learning pods do fall within the latest state guidelines.
District superintendent rich Newman says they launched the program to address challenges their families were facing with distance learning, from internet access and social isolation to distractions and parents' work schedules.

"The number one feedback is 'Thank you. Thank you for thinking of us, for giving kids a safe place to learn. And thank you for letting us go back to work,'" said Newman.

With the county giving schools to open for in-person instruction next week, Newman says they are working on a hybrid option for their K-to-8 classes, before transitioning to an in-person learning model option.