Quarantine and learning loss: How some school districts plan to teach students in quarantine

Mary Ann Cherico has two daughters in elementary school. Last year, they spent the year distance learning, utilizing pods to have more socialization.

This year, they’re heading back to the classroom. But as school nears, there is a little worry creeping in.

"Now that this variant is coming up, it definitely has me a little nervous," Cherico said.

Cherico hasn’t yet heard a formal plan for learning if her daughters would need to quarantine, so she’s come up with her own contingency.

"I have already started talking with a few other parents who are in our kids’ classrooms and have the same teachers and started the conversation of, if it’s going to be an extended period of time, more than a day or two, it might make sense for us to do mini pods," she shared.

That way, her girls would have a way to connect and work with other classmates while hopefully getting some instruction at home.

This is an issue many school districts are grappling with.

"We were on a meeting this morning and we were all talking about it," St. Michael Albertville (STMA) Schools Superintendent Ann-Marie Foucault said.

STMA has a virtual class option for its K-12 students, but it’s a commitment, not something students in quarantine can jump into and out of during the school year.

Recognizing that, the district has come up with a quarantine plan.

"We are looking to free up some dollars so that two days a week, or three days a week, there is time where virtual calls, Zoom calls or Google meets can happen, where they (a student in quarantine) can meet with a teacher. It might not be their teacher, but a licensed STMA teacher and they can deliver that instruction," Foucault described.

That instruction would likely happen after hours for the core subjects.

It’s a plan that, if needed, would be offered to all grade levels to avoid learning loss.

"We are going to try to keep those relationships going when kids are out for 10 days or 14 days at a time (in quarantine) so they don’t experience isolation, and when they come back, academic-wise, they can hit the ground running," she said.

Foucault said there are not a lot of plans out there from other school districts that she has heard of but says her district is prepared, just in case.