Topeka teachers prepare for nontraditional school year


TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The end of the 2019-20 school year was anything but traditional because of the coronavirus pandemic, but educators in Topeka are making the best of things and gearing up for a new year.

“We can’t change the situation, no one expected a pandemic to happen. So your outlook on how it happens, and your positivity is what truly continues to spread,” Kaylee Erickson, a teacher at Jardine Elementary, said.

That’s how a group of teachers in Topeka’s 501 school district are approaching the new school year filled with unknowns.

“There’s some questions that don’t have answers right now, and so we’re just going to have to move forward with what we do know,” Angela Pomeroy, Jardine Elementary’s principal, said.

The district is finding ways to navigate some challenges students are facing.

“My students still really wanted that connection, they might’ve wanted a smaller group at times, when class was over and they could just talk with their friends,” Erickson said.

Topeka Public Schools recently released its reopening plan for the fall, easing students back to the classroom in stages; first virtually, then into a combination of in person and online.

“As much as i want to like plan and go all in, I don’t think it’s going to change a bunch from what i was doing already in the classroom and pushing my students every single day,” Erickson said. “It’s just going to be looking a little different, with more things online.”

And now with a few months of distanced learning already under their belts, one teacher at TCALC, Kathy Foster, is looking forward to yet another challenge to overcome.

“I am not at all apprehensive about returning to school. I’m just approaching this as another opportunity to engage with my kids,” Foster said. “I miss them, and I want to be with them in whatever possible way that I can.”

But, these teachers said not everything is changing.

“We are still going to be teaching the same standards, we are still going to be teaching to the same rigor of the standard expectation,” Cherryl DelaCruz, a teacher at Highland Park High School, said.

For a full breakdown of the district’s plan, click here.

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