School year like no other comes to a close in Peoria

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Peoria Public Schools released students at 12:30 p.m., capping off a most unusual school year.

It was a year marked by a pandemic, with masks, social distancing, and ever-changing learning models.

Peoria Public School students returned to in-person learning on March 1, and Alvin Allen said it couldn’t have come sooner. His granddaughter attends Whittier Elementary School and he was waiting to pick her up.

“I think that when the kids go to school, they’re in a more structured environment and I actually think its better for the kids,” he said.

Clara Molina, a dual language kindergarten teacher at Whittier Elementary, said her relationship with her students and their parents grew stronger as they navigated the turbulent year together.

“We learned how to work as colleagues and share even more information than what we usually do, we were a support system to all of us… We got through our programs using the computers for them, we were able to go inside the homes, meet every day, families that were helping, moms, grandparents, so it was very exciting,” she said.

Molina said her kindergartners were well-behaved, even with all the new rules.

“They were great. They kept the masks on, and it was only a few things here and there,” she said.

Suzanne Linsley, whose kids attend 1st and 3rd grade at Whittier Elementary, said “it’s been crazy but pretty adaptable.” She said the teachers helped students adjust to the varying learning models.

“The teachers and staff here have been really good with making them feel like they’re still part of the class when they were home doing online learning, and then bringing them back together when the time came,” she said.

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