New plan at South St. Paul High School reserves Wednesdays for students who need in-person help

At South St. Paul High School, an experiment has kids talking.

"It will definitely motivate me and I think it will motivate others," junior Aaliyah Mulcahy said.

The program is called "Packer Plus: What I Need Wednesday," and it’s designed so that students who have a C-minus or lower in any class attend school in person for extra help that day. All others have the option of staying home to do asynchronous, online work.

The program started as a pilot last year and, according to South St. Paul High School Principal Chuck Ochocki, it led to a reduction in failing grades.

However, Ochocki said he’s heard some criticism from parents.

"One of the things I have heard from families is that this is a day off… and it’s not. Every kid in our building will have assignments to do," Ochocki said. "It just depends on if you do them in the building or at home."

He also said, after a year of pandemic learning, some students need a built-in way to get caught up.

"Part of what we need to do is slow down and get our kids caught up," Ochocki said.

The district will study the data from this year and, if the program is successful, it could be expanded.