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Waynesboro Public Schools alters schedules to help students during pandemic

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When Westwood Hills Elementary school started looking into ways to address the many issues the pandemic caused, they turned to their students for input.

Students at Westwood Hills were asked to be consultants and interviewed about their experiences at Westwood. This collaboration with students paved the way for a set time in the school day called “What I Need” (WIN) time.

WIN time is used at Westwood Hills to meet the diverse needs of students, which have definitely heightened since the pandemic. This time helps teachers focus on students and helps students learn and practice skills not taught in the traditional classroom setting. In addition, students receive extra academic support where needed.

“There was a lot of missed learning from last year. Our ‘What I Need’ time addresses academics and social emotional stresses students may have. We provide and teach students tools they can take and use later in the classroom that allow them to access their academics,” said Jennifer Sturm, assistant principal at Westwood Hills.

The 30-minute block of time takes place daily. Activities range from mindful activities such as yoga, to targeted academic interventions for students. Teachers use grade level meeting time to determine where the needs are and how to best use WIN time.

“Every adult in the building is working with students at this time. We have had our PE teacher work with students in math groups. We have had a fourth-grade teacher work on study skills because the last time their students had a traditional school year the students were in first grade. We try to give students what they really need,” Sturm said.

Waynesboro High School added a similar structure to help address learning loss due to COVID called Flex Block. The first priority of this one-hour block of time is to give students an opportunity to recover credits they may need toward graduation.

Flex Block is also used as a time to help ninth graders acclimate to the high school environment. In addition this time provides an opportunity to introduce new electives and offer content-specific study halls.

“The last year has been difficult for all students and families. Flex Block is an opportunity for students to recover lost credits, access support staff, and rekindle relationships in a safe environment,” WHS Principal Bryan Stamm said.