After two years, students and faculty were welcomed back to the classroom on Monday, June 8! The first day back was filled with constant excited chatter and happy energy from students, staff, and parents. There was no shortage of excitement, and many students wanted hugs, but to limit physical contact, a puño (fist bump) is what they shared!
In July of 2020, the Guatemalan government moved to a stop light system that indicated the infection rates in municipalities. Currently, the municipality where New Hope School is located is classified as orange, which authorizes class size to 6-8 students. The hybrid system in orange means having students in school two days a week for six hours.
Families are divided into four groups and can come to the school for a maximum of three hours per day to prevent the spread of Covid-19. When students are not in the classroom, they communicate with their teachers through WhatsApp and Zoom sessions. As the infection rate decreases, New Hope can increase the number of students in classrooms.
Face-to-face classes are not mandatory, but most students are excited to return to the classroom! Elsa Murga, Director of New Hope School, says she’s excited for students to be back as it makes it easier to reconnect, help answer questions, and track where students are after two years of remote learning.
“Many students arrived early and were excited to share stories from the past two years. The teachers are also happy but worried because they are already finding far behind students. The good thing is that they can attend to students and help them catch up. Every teacher is already exploring ways to serve these students,” said Elsa.
Diagnostic testing has been completed by grade to determine the level of learning (or lack of) during the last two years to assess the level of competencies of each grade. Each student who is not at the desired level of learning will be provided with an individual plan to get them back to the desired level. With the new hybrid model, there is an opportunity to provide timely feedback and resolve questions that students may have before going home.
While remote learning was tough, there is a silver lining. Parents and students have become more accustomed and comfortable with online communications, which have greatly improved information flow and reach. Renato Westby, Director of New Program Development, shared, “I’m excited to take what we learned during the pandemic and use technology to update the School’s curriculum.” With the increased communication, supporting and identifying the students experiencing learning difficulties is easier.
There is so much to look forward to for the rest of the year! Everyone is ready to catch up on all things missed in the past two years, and there is hope that classes will soon return to being 100% face-to-face!