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Davis School District finds creative solution for teachers in quarantine

Posted at 10:07 PM, Oct 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-02 00:07:34-04

DAVIS CO., Utah — The Davis School District has gotten creative in how it is keeping in-person classes going, even as some teachers end up in quarantine.

It's a new kind of hybrid learning during COVID-19, and the district said it would have never thought of it in years past.

On Thursday afternoon, a class of first grade Foxboro Elementary School kids counted down out loud as part of a timed assignment on their iPads.

"Three... two... one..." they chimed, in unison. The class then cheered.

The small group of students were nearing the end of their school day, with only a couple of lessons left. It was the last in-person day of the first week on the new four-day in-person schedule for elementary schools.

Looking around the room, it was clear the kids have adjusted to the new way of learning. They each wore masks and hand sanitizer sat at their desks.

But there was something else brand new this week-- Their teacher wasn't in the classroom.

Zoe Lesgourgues was instead projected on a large screen on the wall, on Zoom from her quarantine at home.

She could see the students through a web cam placed on her desk at the front corner of the room.

Because she teaches French immersion, it's not like a substitute teacher can just step in and pick up where she left off.

"If I had a sub, most of the time it's an English sub," Lesgourgues said. "So they go to school, but [the students] don't hear any French."

Davis School District spokesperson Chris Williams explained that they are allowing teachers like Lesgourgues who have had to go into quarantine and can't come to class, to continue teaching their classroom of students remotely.

He indicated that the district provides 10 days of COVID leave, should a teacher need to quarantine for one reason or another, or if they test positive for the virus.

But once that time has been used up, it's not available to use again in the future.

"In this situation, where we have a teacher in quarantine who is feeling good, she can still teach," he said. "She doesn't have to use any of that leave, so it's the best of both worlds."

Lesgourgues said she went into quarantine late last week. She said at first, it was frustrating and boring.

With the ability to teach her class over Zoom, she can be much more productive and continue connecting with her students.

"I'm still teaching, and I can see them working. And it's not a big deal to be in quarantine at home," she said.

Of course, the kids aren't completely alone in the classroom.

"Okay, here we go!" Rachel Ruhr said to the students, as she walked around while they started a new assignment.

She's a literacy tutor and has been helping keep the kids on track by handing out lessons, answering questions, and assisting them with logging into their iPads and online accounts.

Ruhr said when teachers are absent, often the lesson plans fall back a couple of days.

In the case with Lesgourgues' class, the lesson plans would have fallen back at least a week.

"She can still be here to teach the new material," Ruhr said, of Lesgourgues. "While I can be here to physically help manage the classroom."

Ruhr described how it's a partnership between herself and Lesgourgues. Luckily, Ruhr knows a little French from having taken it in high school.

"Between the two of us, we are able to get through the day," Ruhr said.

So, even though Lesgourgues can't physically be there, the kids aren't missing a beat.

"It's pretty incredible that we can do this at all," Ruhr said. "That we can have the teacher virtually here, in real time, teaching her students and continuing to interact with them."