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ST. LOUIS – Students in the Mehlville School District have had five full days of virtual learning since classes began on Tuesday, August 25.

MOSAIC Elementary Fifth Grade Teacher Stephanie Werner said her biggest focus during week one was on building relationships with her students.

“Our goal for the first week of school is really to build those relationships, help them to feel confident on the tech tools that we have, and just kind of work alongside families and that is what we did,” Werner said.

Technology is more important than ever this school year, but Werner said the first week’s challenges were easy to troubleshoot. 

“Some kids were getting just dropped and kicked out of Google Meets and then they didn’t quite know what to do when they were at home, and so their parents would email us, and then we would respond and get them on.” 

Werner’s students are also not missing out on any of their usual school-day activities.

“Art, music, P.E. that is all things that are being done during this time,” Werner said. “The students will stay in the Google Meet and their teachers from art, music, P.E., and library will jump in and do their lesson for the day.” 

Even though school is virtual Werner says students are still meeting all of the state department of education’s curriculum requirements, but she says she misses seeing her students in person.  

“There’s nothing that will ever replace being in-person with these kids. They’re 10 and 11 years old, that relationship building, that in-person, the empathy you can see between our eyes and just the connection is irreplaceable, but we’re making it work in the situation in order to keep our students safe,” Werner said.

Werner says relationship building is so important for elementary school children and although she doesn’t have any new students in her class, she said kindergarteners in the district are being thrown a huge learning curve since they’ve never met their classmates or their teachers. But last week Mehlville took steps to ease the transition.

“The Kindergarten students came in, they met their teachers, they got to really see the person behind the screen. They also got to see each other in passing, but our parents are doing a wonderful job of getting on Facebook groups and introducing each other.”

Just one week in, teachers in the Mehlville School District have already been getting helpful feedback from the administration. 

“Our superintendent sent out some really great information regarding some parent feedback, of course we listen to the good and the bad and we make adjustments here and there, but overall it’s been a really great and positive experience,” Werner said.