Youth at Methodist Children’s Home spent the first six weeks of the fall semester engaged in a remote learning environment from their homes on the Waco campus and MCH Boys Ranch before resuming in-person classes at the MCH charter school in October.
The charter school is operated in partnership with the University of Texas—University Charter School (UTUCS) system. Staff at the charter school prepared lesson plans to keep youth engaged during the weeks of remote learning and each student received a laptop to work on assignments posted online. Technology also provided opportunities to engage in virtual meetings and tutoring sessions with teachers.
To prepare for the first day of on-campus school, staff at the charter school implemented COVID-19 safety measures to minimize contact between students and teachers. Signs with reminders to wear a mask and practice safe distancing are posted at each entrance alongside hand sanitizer dispensers. Where possible, hallways are routed as one-way passages and marked by vinyl floor stickers. In classrooms, desk spaces are outlined by tape to maintain proper distancing. Students also eat lunch at their desks in the classroom to avoid congregating in the cafeteria.
Boys and girls have classes separately on a hybrid calendar, attending in-person at the school on alternating days. The hybrid model of instruction will be continued for the entire 2020-2021 school year, according to Michelle Arocha, executive principal of the MCH charter school.
“The first day of in-person school went really well and teachers were thrilled to have actual people in their rooms that they could visit with and instruct in the face-to-face format,” Arocha said. “Even with masks, you could see the smiles on everyone’s faces as they enjoyed their first day back at school.”
Arocha also noted the students “did a wonderful job of following the new traffic patterns established in the school and following the social distance guidelines that have been put in place.”
Dorothy Phillips, director of educational services, said transition back to school was a team effort.
“Our MCH staff and UTUCS staff have done an amazing job working together to educate our youth and I am excited to see how we will continue to adapt and offer hands-on and engaging learning opportunities in this hybrid model,” Phillips said. “I enjoyed seeing the smiling faces of students, staff and teachers on the first day back.”