TPS explains Modified Micro Classrooms

Published: Aug. 7, 2020 at 5:42 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Topeka Public Schools is closing opportunity gaps by launching modified micro classrooms.

Topeka Public Schools says it is launching a research-based micro classroom concept in its elementary schools to allow for in-person classes five days a week once Phase II is implemented in the district. It says all elementary schools will offer micro classrooms that consist of 15 children or fewer to reduce the spread and exposure of COVID-19 and to close opportunity gaps in those learning basic skills.

TPS says as part of its reopening plan, “Transforming Topeka Together,” all students will begin the school year by learning remotely in Phase I, then moving on to a hybrid-learning model where students will be on an A/B schedule spending two days in school and the remaining three days engaged in remote learning at home.

According to TPS, the new micro classrooms will allow all K-5th grade students to attend in-person classes five days a week in Phase II unless students opt to attend school using a remote model.

TPS says students in modified micro classrooms will be separated by six feet for adequate social distancing to allow staff members to serve scholars in person for the duration of the week. It says the benefits of the new concept include the following:

  • Learning will be personalized to close academic gaps
  • Staff will have personal contact with elementary students daily 
  • The spread of the virus will be reduced due to less exposure to others
  • Stable groups of students will build relationships and will be transitioned back into school

According to the district, the micro classrooms will also address equity issued the pandemic has exacerbated. It says as an example, students on free reduced lunch will have daily meals, access to mental health services, access to onsite laundry facilities and nursing services including free dental care.

“As a result of our staff collaborating to Transform Topeka Together, we are truly transforming teaching and learning through this innovative model that allows us to serve well our most vulnerable learners. Academic gaps that begin at early ages are difficult to close later in life and we know prisons in the United States are Built based on literacy rates in elementary school. Further, I believe this small classroom support for elementary age learners will ultimately contribute to the economic prosperity of our community as working families have reliable educational care throughout the week, " shared Topeka Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Tiffany Anderson, who is known for providing systems of support through innovative techniques. Mrs. Sonderegger, Quincy Elementary principal, (a school that serves many of the students living at the Rescue Mission), shared, “When Dr. Anderson contacted us my staff loved this small classroom concept because it’s just best for kids and we look forward to having our children back.”

TPS says in 2015, Dr. Anderson founded the Hope House for homeless students in Jennings, Missouri, where she previously served as superintendent and is now bringing similar services to Topeka.

“The Transforming Topeka Together plan allows our dedicated staff to nurture, support and promote the wellbeing of our most vulnerable population,” shared Dr. Anderson. The Elementary modified micro-school concept has been made possible by having all certified staff at all levels who may have supported pullout programs repurposed to carry out classroom teaching duties. Superintendent, Dr. Anderson who periodically teaches in the classroom is preparing to support schools as a remote or in-person teacher partially as needed as well. All hands are on deck in Topeka to make this happen. Teacher Kaylee Erickson shared, " this new model will allow teachers to really support students in creative ways.”

TPS says it has established a web page where families and community members can learn more about the reopening plan, the various learning models and actions being taken to protect student and staff health and safety. The page can be found here.

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