Sun Prairie’s youngest students transition to hybrid learning

SUN PRAIRIE, Wis.– Today kind of felt like the first day of school in Sun Prairie.

About 1,400 of the district’s youngest students are in the classroom this week for the first time this school year.

“You know we’re a school. This is what we do,” CH Bird Elementary School Principal Nicole Toepfer said.

Toepfer said three months of virtual learning allowed teachers to plan for today.

“We’ve been working super hard to engage our students online, but nothing compares to actually having them here with us,” Toepfer said.

Sun Prairie Area School District follows guidelines from Public Health Madison and Dane County. The current order allows grades kindergarten through second, plus any students with unique needs to meet in-person. Schools must have policies to keep those students healthy.

“To help our little elementary kiddos think about social distancing, we are the CH Bird blue jays, so we are talking about making sure that your stay a blue jay wingspan apart from one another,” Toepfer said.

The district says students should not go to school if they have any symptoms or another member of the household has COVID-19.

Being in a classroom with others might not be the best option for everyone right now.

“Parents, just like many of our educators are really torn right now,” Director of Elementary Teaching, Learning and Equity Rick Mueller said. “What’s the best thing to do for my child?”

That’s why the district is giving families the choice.

Mueller said many families are looking forward to a more permanent return.

“Our teachers do an amazing job, pulling up next to a child and being very diagnostic and intentional about the work that they do,” Mueller said. “That space between a child and a teacher, there’s nothing that can replace it.”

Sun Prairie schools will adjust protocols according to public health’s guidelines, including to determine when older students will return to the classrooms, according to Mueller.