From fewer students in its Regional Afterschool Program each day to the creation of a full-day program, the COVID-19 pandemic and the Dickinson Public Schools resulting hybrid schedule have even shaped learning options outside of the traditional classroom.

Although the overall enrollment in RASP is similar to past years, the number of kids participating on any given day has been cut in half since the pandemic. Students only attend the program, which is available only to elementary school students, on the days they’re physically in school, which is about every other day.

“The biggest change with it is we’re on our hybrid schedule right now,” said Keith Harris, assistant superintendent for the district. “There’s half the kids attending on any given day as what there would have been … While the overall enrollment has probably remained similar, the daily participation rate is tied directly to the kids who were in school face-to-face that day, so that would be half of what would have been there last year.”

The fewer number of students provides those in attendance with more one-on-one attention, Harris said.

“That provides some cool opportunities for us,” he said. “We’re able to have an even more personal approach to kids and working with kids on the different learning projects. If you’ve got 20 in a room versus 10 and you do homework help, you’re able to give more one-on-one help to kids than when there’s other people in the room.”

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The program provides homework help, academic time and learning activities for its participants.

New this year, the school district has created a full-day program, which is not related to RASP or funded through the same federal grant.

The program was created to assist working parents who may have found it difficult to find childcare for their student, and it runs on roughly the same hours as the elementary schools.

“Because of limitations on space, we weren’t able to make that available probably to everyone who would have loved to be a part of it; we had to limit enrollment in that. On the days their kids aren’t in school, it gives those kids a place to go where they can provide supervision and some assistance with their academic work that’s online,” Harris said.

The program is staffed by paraprofessionals who already worked in the district.

“We’ve got a really good staff that we’ve actually taken from the different buildings. With us being on a hybrid schedule, we were able to take a paraprofessional from each of the buildings and have them working with these kids in our all-day program,” Harris said.