By Dan Bechtold
The Winner School District has announced it will remain closed to in school classes until the end of the school year.
Gov. Kristi Noem has called off all in person to person classes at schools until the end of the school year due to the coronavirus. Students had already by learning remotely from home.
This Monday was start of the fourth week of at home learning.
Winner superintendent Keven Morehart says the last day of school will be May 21. He said the school board has the option to end it earlier but his recommendation will be to go till May 21, the original ending date for this year.
“The kids are learning and the remote learning is going well,” said Morehart.
He noted the teachers are doing a great job with their assignments. The superintendent sees staff who work in the administration building come in and put information on line for students.
He added work at the elementary school is going well. Packets with assignments are given to students each week. Parents pickup the packets each week at the elementary school.
Morehart’s wife, Melanie, teaches second grade. He explained each Sunday his wife has a Zoom meeting with her second graders.
Melanie Morehart has 17 students in her class and most of them are able to interact and ask questions during those weekly meetings on Zoom. Zoom is an online video conference platform.
There are other elementary teachers who are using Zoom to connect with their students.
“I think the teachers are missing the kids. It is surreal what is going on here,” said Morehart.
Winner High School graduation has been set for June 13 at 2 p.m. in the Armory. The original graduation date was May 16 but that has been moved due to the issue with COVID-19.
The superintendent says if the social distancing restrictions are not lifted by June graduation may be pushed back to July.
“We are going to have graduation one way or the other,” he explained.
If the restrictions last into the summer, there are other ideas for graduation. One of them is to comply with social distancing.
The Armory would be decorated like it normally is for graduation and a few students would walk down the aisle get their diploma, have their picture taken with parents and then leave.
This would allow time for another small group of graduates to walk down the aisle.
“We want to give the seniors that memory, it is all about memories,” said Morehart.
Prom is set for June 20 but Morehart has heard from some parents who might like to have it during the weekday. “We will work with the parents. I know this is another memory the students want.
We need to keep it as normal as possible.”
There will be the traditional grand march and possibly an after prom party.
In an interview with the Winner Advocate, Morehart talked about a lot of other issues and how this COVID-19 is affecting them.
He sees the possibility of no summer school and does not know yet if there will be driver’s education.
Last year the school had a summer meal program at noon. It looks like there will be no meal summer program this year.
However, Morehart is pleased at how well the sack lunches are going for school kids. Over 400 sack lunches are prepared Monday through Friday.
The process for parents to pick up the lunches is running smoothly. Parents just need to pull up in front of the Armory and tell how many lunches they need.
Lunches are also taken to Ideal and Winner Housing. Morehart estimated about 60 lunches go to these two locations.
Sack lunches will be served until the last day of school on May 21.
In the interview, Morehart went back to how well he thinks the students are learning while they are at home.
“I think in the beginning people were wondering if the students would learn at home. I have seen what my boys are going at home and it is working. They are working hard.
Our staff is doing a great job. I think what has helped is that our staff has been exposed to on line classes and they know what works and what will not work,” he said.
Morehart added that in the beginning some of the staff were sending too much for the students to do. The superintendent suggested to the staff that less maybe better.
Teachers are still posting grades for the students and giving students quizzes and tests just as if they were in the classroom.
“Our staff has gotten into a comfort zone with this remote learning. They know what to prepare and send out. Our elementary teachers are all working together,” he said.
The superintendent says it is getting easier each week.
“These are trying times and we need some normalcy.