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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Hybrid school schedule giving students plenty of one-on-one time with teachers, staff

Jodi Summit
Posted 1/20/21

TOWER- Students at Vermilion Country School moved to a hybrid learning system in December. As the final days of the second quarter approached this past week, students were working on completing all …

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Hybrid school schedule giving students plenty of one-on-one time with teachers, staff

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TOWER- Students at Vermilion Country School moved to a hybrid learning system in December. As the final days of the second quarter approached this past week, students were working on completing all their classwork, often with some gentle nudging from school staff. Each student had a personalized printout that showed any missing classwork, and teachers and staff were making sure students had what they needed to complete their work on time.
Keeping students engaged and participating has been a challenge for all schools in this pandemic time, but with a small student body, teachers at VCS are doing their best to connect with their students every day.
With the move to a hybrid schedule, the school divided students into two cohorts – some attend school on Mondays and Tuesdays, the others on Thursdays and Fridays. When not at school, students attend classes online and complete projects at home. A few students have opted to remain in every-day distance learning. The small cohort model has given teachers opportunities for more time spent giving individualized instruction, and making sure students stay engaged and on track.
School administrator Frank Zobitz said that, with the welcome downward trend of COVID-19 infection rates, the school board will look at increasing the number of days students attend in person.
School staff are also starting to be vaccinated as part of the statewide effort. The state has also sent the school a supply of in-home COVID-19 test kits for teachers and staff.
The hybrid model hasn’t changed the focus on getting students outdoors. Environmental education teacher Mike Joint has been taking small groups out snowshoeing and exploring Tower’s new trails in the old-growth cedar woods near the school. The curriculum at VCS has a focus on environmental education, as well as hands-on learning and community service.
School Choice Week
As a free public charter school for grades 7-12, VCS is among a select group of Minnesota schools celebrated during National School Choice Week, the last week in January.
“In Minnesota, community members are sharing the message that families benefit from choices and flexible learning opportunities,” said Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week. “This National School Choice Week, let’s celebrate how great educators and schools of all types inspire kids to learn, grow, and give back to the community.”
VCS attracts students from Tower-Soudan, Ely, Embarrass/Babbitt, Aurora/Hoyt Lakes, and the Virginia/Mt. Iron areas. Transportation is available from neighboring towns. The school also provides breakfast and lunch. While students are in the hybrid-learning mode, the school sends home frozen meals and other foods to be reheated on days they are not in the school building. You can learn more about the school at www.vermilioncountry.org.

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