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Though the method still isn't ideal, the Moniteau County R-1 School District was much better prepared for its current situation than it was in the spring.

The district switched to virtual learning starting Nov. 9 and extending through Dec. 2 due to a rise in coronavirus cases and quarantines among members of the school district population. So far, things are going more smoothly than the last time the district was forced to pivot away from in-person classes.

"It has been going as well or better than expected, much better than it did in the spring at all levels," superintendent Dwight Sanders said. "I think in each of the buildings, it's much improved."

The district has been able to provide Chromebooks for all elementary students this time around and has made it easier for students and teachers when it comes to timely assignments and feedback. Back in the spring, students were mostly picking up packets from the school, taking them home and completing them and then returning them to the school, which made things a little chaotic for everyone involved.

"We learned some things about the parameters to set for our staff in our best efforts to reach our students and parents," Sanders said. "So now, we basically have office hours where we didn't have in the spring. Then, I think our teachers felt like they were working about the clock and parents felt like they didn't know when to communicate with the teachers. And each of the schedules are a little different at each building."

California Elementary School's schedule, for example, is basically 8 a.m.-3 p.m. At California Middle School, there are specific office hours by grade level and an office hour in the evening when parents are home in case they need to contact their child's teacher. California High School's office hours don't start until 10 a.m., but they also have two or three hours in the evening where teachers work with the students and follow up on emails.

A majority of teachers have been trying to connect with their students every day, Sanders said. For example, at the middle school, every teacher is uploading a video daily so students can see their teacher as well as hear the content of the instruction for their assignments.

"It's not a replacement for face-to-face learning, and we don't claim that it is and we recognize it never will be, but we're certainly doing a much better job now and our students are engaged better now than they were in the spring," Sanders said.

The district is hopeful to have the majority of students back to face-to-face instruction by December. They do have a hybrid model plan that can be put into effect if needed, but Sanders said the district has come to a realization that it might not be able to implement a districtwide plan. It may have to make custom plans for each building to accommodate their varied needs.

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