First Weeks of In-Person Learning at SPPS

  • On February 1, Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) welcomed back approximately 4,000 students for in-person learning. On February 16, students in grades 3-5 began learning in person and experienced their own “first day” of school. For many of these students, it was their first time inside their school, and their first day with their teachers and classmates since March 9, 2020.

    “The first family I met this morning outside our building had three students, a kindergartner, a first grader and a fourth grader. All of the students were telling me that they didn't sleep at all last night because they were so excited to come to school today,” says Jennifer Mickelson, principal at Four Seasons Elementary School. “The fourth grader told me that even though she wasn't coming in person yet, she was so excited for her brothers that she couldn't sleep.”

    This excitement was echoed at schools across the district, as students, teachers and staff were reunited for the first time in almost a year.

    “The hum and excitement of having our etoiles (stars) coming back could be felt everywhere! Children and staff have been practicing social distancing, mask wearing and washing their hands,” says Lourdes Flores-Hanson, principal at L’Etoile du Nord French Immersion School. When I asked one of our first grade students if she has been having a good day, her response was ‘yes.’  When I asked her why, she responded: ‘Because I was able to come to school!’ All in French!”

    Not only did students return to school for instruction, they also had the opportunity to interact with their classmates and teachers, many of whom they’d only seen through an iPad screen until this week.

    “Teachers created warm and welcoming learning spaces while also maintaining our social distancing recommendations,” says Nancy Páez, principal of Riverview West Side School of Excellence. “Students were excited to be in school and followed all the new routines with enthusiasm. They were familiar with many of the learning activities and songs their teachers had used during distance learning.”

    Students who remained in distance learning also met their new teachers and classmates in the Virtual Learning School this month. These students will remain connected to their school while continuing to learn remotely.

    Secondary students (grades 6-12) will have the option to come to school for in-person academic support starting the week of February 22.

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