EUGENE, Ore. – Middle school students in the Eugene School District 4J said their educational experience has improved substantially since returning to in-person learning.
At Monroe Middle School, where students returned in April, Principal Sun Saeteurn said staff worked tirelessly to welcome students back in a safe and inviting way.
“I've seen the impact not being in the building has had on students and families,” Saeteurn said. “Once we found out that students were going to have the opportunity to come back, myself, and our staff and our office staff were all very, very excited.”
Saeteurn said when students started returning, it was a reminder of how important hands-on, in-person instruction is for students.
“It was a lot of work. But it was well worth it just to see kids come in for the first time in I think over a year,” Saeteurn said.
This week, some students in one class were busy designing and racing small-scale solar cars. Eighth grader Chloe Hackett said it’s a project that would have been much more difficult to do remotely.
“At home, you don't have teachers to help you and to explain things as well. But if you're at home, you have to kind of figure it out on your own or find a way to talk to them through computer screens,” Hackett said.
Eighth grader Kai Carlson agreed.
“First off, I need the materials. That’d be pretty hard to get and I need the teacher's help. I have a bunch of questions, obviously about like how to make it work and go faster and straighter and stuff,” Carlson said.
At Monroe, students have been back in the classrooms for hybrid learning since April. But it’s not exactly the same.
“You can see dots around here, you'll see one-way flow of traffic in the hallways, you'll see signs everywhere,” Saeteurn said.
There are still separate cohorts alternating on certain days of the week, with deep cleanings reserved for Wednesdays.
It takes some getting used to, but students said it’s worth it.
“It just feels better being able to talk to people and ask questions to teachers, not just emailing all the time and stuff,” Carlson said.
The 4J school district said 70% of students are now back in classrooms for hybrid learning. The remaining 30% have opted for entirely remote learning.