The Saratoga Sun -

From parents to teachers

Parents work through CCSD2’s Adapted Learning Plan


It is no secret that the closure of Wyoming schools, has tested both students and parents. Now the 2020 school year will be completed at home.

Some parents think this a good idea.

“I believe finishing the school year at home is smart. I know doing online school at home is difficult for many families but for us, it has meant extra time with our children,” Hanna resident and Hanna Basin Museum Director Sunshine Solaas said.

She has six children, most in the Hanna, Elk Mountain, Medicine Bow (HEM) High school, residing at home. Many of her children are in outside school activities.

“No sports running us around in 20 different directions, no high school drama being brought home and, overall, just a slower pace of life,” Solass noted. “That being said, the kids have mixed feelings about it. They are happier they get to sleep in a little bit, but what they miss the most kind of caught me off guard.”

When Solaas asked what they thought about the school closure and how it affected their lives, they all said they miss their friends, but what they really miss is the teachers.

“Yes, the teachers. Listening to my kids talk about their teachers brought a smile to my face. From bringing out a love for history to making sure the FFA chapter is going strong, these teachers are making a huge impact in our children’s lives,” Solaas said. “Not only do these super heroes make sure my kids are learning but they are forming friendships and bonds that will be remembered for a lifetime. I have to say, thank you HEM staff for making this transition as smooth as possible.”

Vivian Gonzales, Director of the Hanna Recreation Center and Hanna resident has two children staying at home. Her son, Zachariah, is in 3rd grade and daughter, Hanna, is in 9th grade.

Gonzales said there has been positive elements of the school closure.

“It has given us more family closeness getting involved in the kids’ school work and made us go outside and enjoy the fresh air and wilderness more,” Gonzales said. “The kids miss their friends, and I feel for them, but they are still able to make contact through the school Zoom meetings and such, so it makes it easier.”

Sharon Biamon, mayor of Medicine Bow, is raising her grandson, Howard Bame who is a freshman at HEM.

“I raised two kids and though I love my grandson Howard, I thought I was done,” Biamon said. “Now that he is home due to school closure and lockdown, I find myself being the crochety and nagging grandmother.”

She said making him understand that the social distancing is serious is sometimes hard. Baimon and her husband both have health conditions that would make them vulnerable to COVID-19 if it came into their home.

“I understand it is hard on him. He wants to go outside, which is fine, but then he wants to play basketball with his friends, which is not okay,” Biamon said. “I know it might sound like we are being over cautious, but we have to be. Just because kids don’t show signs doesn’t mean we should not be concerned. That is hard to explain to a 14 year old. Don’t get me wrong, he would never want to endanger us but so much has changed on him, this is hard.”

She said he was mostly good about doing his schoolwork, but bedtime was sometimes hard to enforce.

“His schedule had him disciplined to be up at a certain time and go to bed at a certain time,” Biamon said. “Now 10 p.m. can turn into 10:30 p.m. and once I caught him playing games on his cell phone around midnight. The cell phone was confiscated because he broke rules, but this virus has changed so many rules, it is hard not to seem like I am being fair.”

Elk Mountain resident Courtney Priest, secretary at Medicine Bow Elementary, said her two children–son, Cody age 13, and daughter, Mackenzie, age 14–have been responsible about doing their assignments. Their father is principal of HEM. She acknowledged with both parents being gone in the day at different towns, the kids are on their own to get their studies complete.

“We both work for the school system, so there wouldn’t be much they could pull over us, and they are good kids and they know the value of education,” Courtney said. “Saying that, we check nightly what they have done and then there is the weekly review.”

She said the hardest part on them was being away from their friends and social activities they enjoyed at school.

Ann Calvert, Hanna town clerk, is out of the house early to get to her job. Her partner, Seth Konrath, owner of Elk Mountain Conoco, has adjusted his schedule to be home during the morning and afternoons, when possible. Their son, Conor, is in the 4th grade. Calvert said it has not been easy to have both their schedules make sure someone is home to watch Conor. It also helps Calvert is within minutes of their home to check up on Conor, if he should be alone on the rare occasion.

“Its hard to make sure he is doing all the work he should during the day if we both are gone, so we do our best to make sure that doesn’t happen often,” Calvert said. “I’ve gone from the fun, cool mom to the serious mom who is making sure he is doing his studies, which sometimes makes me look mean in his eyes.”

When she gets home from work, Calvert spends another two to three hours going over the schoolwork to make sure her son understands.

“Fourth grade is too important as kids start developing math, science, English, reading and analytical skills for me to take the chance he might miss something because he doesn’t have an instructor,” Calvert said. “It has meant that Saturday is no longer a free day. We spend about six hours going over all his schoolwork. There just isn’t any choice.”

Calvert said the close attention has helped her see what Conor needs to focus on.

“The closure has made me appreciate how much planning the teachers put forth during the school year,” Calvert said. “My son is doing his best under the conditions, as are we, but the school closure and social distancing to where he can’t be with his friends makes me hope this will be the only year this ever happens.”


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