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Hamburg Community School District adapting to virtual classrooms

Posted at 6:56 PM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-27 20:07:51-04

HAMBURG, Iowa (KMTV) — The Hamburg Community School District in southwest Iowa is still adjusting to virtual learning.

Instead of attending classes in person, students attend lectures via Zoom, YouTube or Google Classroom and turn in assignments to their teachers.

"This is totally different," said Wendy Duncan, the fourth grade teacher at the school who has taught for 22 years. "Is it ideal? No. It’s not perfect but the kids are still learning."

For Duncan's class of 20, she has an hour of Zoom lectures in the morning and then is available to help her class throughout the rest of the day.

"Some kids decide they want to work when their parents get off from work," Duncan said. "They’ll work after 5:00 and on the weekend and I’m available through text and email and they call sometimes."

Unlike bigger school districts that may struggle with limited resources, the Hamburg Community School District doesn't have that problem. It has a one to one student to computer ratio.

"Fifth grade has MacBooks and then other kids have Windows computers," Duncan said.

As well, the smaller class sizes in the district help give students individualized attention if needed while learning from home.

"If there are kids who have questions I’ll stay on and talk," Duncan said.

However, for the students, the change is still hard.

"It’s way better to have friends and to not communicate through a screen," said Xavier Prosper, a fourth grader in Ms. Duncan's class.

Unlike many districts across the area, the teachers in Hamburg are still able to see their students if needed and can drop off or pick up assignments from their student's houses.

"I know where all those kids live, if they need extra papers I can deliver it to them," said Lindsey Fans, a fifth grade teacher at the school.

"We wave at each other. I’d like to give them a hug but I can’t," Duncan said.

While the learning from home has been a difficult transition for the students, it's also been hard emotionally for the teachers. They said they're ready to have the children back in the classrooms again.

"I’m an extrovert and this is not the way teaching should go," Fans said. "I miss them tremendously. You don’t go in to this field to teach from a computer, you go in to build relationships and how do you build relationships when it’s typed word. You don’t hear their tone of voice so it’s hard to respond correctly. I don’t know if they’re upset or frustrated because it is all a typed word."

"It’s different seeing them on the screen," Duncan said. "You see them but to see them in person is very different. I’m ready, it’s time for some normalcy around here."

The Hamburg Community School District is also currently making and delivering breakfast and lunches to 225 students daily along with weekly bags of breakfast.

The district is also still having students help out in its farm and greenhouses. Two students a day come in work with the superintendent or teacher while practicing social distancing. The district said it is a great escape for the students.

Watch reporter Phil Bergman's story in the above video.