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Halfway through a different year at Sanibel school

By JAMIE REED - | Dec 9, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED Jamie Reed

As we approach the winter holiday break and the new year, I am proud to report that learning is alive and well at The Sanibel School, even during a pandemic!

We began the school year in late August with about 60 percent of our students on our campus for face-to-face instruction. Students and staff members quickly adapted to the new safety protocols put into place: mandatory masks, desks spread apart in classrooms, assigned seating school-wide, grab-and-go breakfast, and lunch breaks in different spaces throughout our campus. It didn’t take long for all students to adapt to walking in one-way hallways and for our middle school students to give up using their lockers this year. We learned that children are surprisingly adaptable and social creatures, eager to be back at school with their friends.

Students who chose to learn remotely with Lee Home Connect found that there were some challenges with Internet connectivity and learning via Zoom meetings, but many of them handled these challenges well.

Our teachers learned to juggle teaching concurrently, with live students in front of them as well as Zooming with students. This has been quite a challenge, but our teachers at The Sanibel School are amazingly hard working.

Students submitted their classwork through Google Classroom instead of handing in assignments physically. Some students have soared with this new form of learning, while others have struggled for various reasons.

Administration at The Sanibel School has been flexible with allowing students to change their learning status, based on each student’s needs and family situation. As of now, about 80 percent of our enrolled students have returned to school for face-to-face instruction. This has been one of the highest percentages of face-to face students of any Lee County Public School. Our outdoor campus and small school size help with managing students safely. Classmates and teachers excitedly welcome back students as they return.

Assistant Principal Jennifer Lusk and I have focused on making school a fun place to be by celebrating students’ successes with popcorn parties, dressing up for themed events, and visiting classrooms with “The Happy Cart” from time to time.

We continue to make learning a memorable experience and whole heartedly appreciate the love and support of families and the community. Our students were able to have access to a wonderful outdoor classroom that is J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge — conveniently located adjacent to our school — where they can cover science lessons in an engaging way.

Students were able to participate in the Turkey Trot races again this year just before Thanksgiving break. We couldn’t have spectators, so it didn’t look exactly like the event has in years past. But, our students gave it their all and had a great time.

As we head towards the New Year, we will have additional spirit days for students to enjoy in a way that is safe, fun, and doesn’t take focus away from our studies.

We appreciate the community’s support for all we do to benefit our students. Happy holidays to you and yours from all the teachers and staff at The Sanibel School!

Jamie Reid is the principal for The Sanibel School.