CI Heroes: Stark County Elementary teachers adjust to COVID-19 restrictions

CI Heroes

STARK COUNTY, Ill. (WMBD) — Central Illinois educators are in the spotlight for our CI Heroes series. As students and families manage COVID-19, teachers, and staff are also adapting to the ever-changing environment. This week CI Heroes are a Response to Intervention (RTI) educator and a fifth-grade teacher from Stark County Elementary.

In a socially distanced classroom, fifth-grade teacher Sarah DeBord teaches vocabulary words. When she had to quarantine for COVID-19 exposure in September, her way of teaching transformed.

“I had pretty much a night to decide how I was going to do this, and we have the choice you can virtual teacher or take your COVID sick days,” said DeBord.

As the first Stark County Elementary teacher to do so, she opted for teaching through a computer screen.

“I sat at home in front of my computer,” said DeBord. “I got on a GoogleMeet and I was projected upon the smartboard and there was a substitute teacher acting as a facilitator around the room because I couldn’t physically be there. I think it was important to not break that connection.”

Across the elementary, Response to Intervention teacher (RTI) Jill Klooster helps students who are struggling with a specific skill or lesson.

“There’s kind of a small window in which you can catch them up and they never even realize that they were struggling, so if you let it go on too long it becomes a bigger problem and it’s harder to close the gap,” said Klooster.

She said the personal guidance can’t be replicated through a screen.

“COVID isn’t going anywhere soon, so we need to have the kids at school,” said Klooster. “They need to be learning, interacting with other children. I think it’s just healthier for them and they’re very happy to be here.”

Stark County Schools is in class from 7:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. five days a week. The elementary is located at 300 W. Van Buren St, Wyoming, IL 61491.

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