Trista Disch, a second grade teacher at Riverview Elementary School in South Beloit, is shown at work. The South Beloit Community Unit School District Board of Education approved a one-time payment of $500 for employees to show appreciation for their additional duties associated with providing both virtual and in-person learning simultaneously.

SOUTH BELOIT — The South Beloit Community Unit School District Board of Education approved a one-time payment of $500 for each of its 127 employees at its Nov. 10 meeting, according to information from Superintendent Scott Fisher.

“Given that all employees have a much increased workload this year, the district believed it was appropriate given all the circumstances,” Fisher said. “The school board has great appreciation for the staff and wanted to do something for all the additional work.”

Since Aug. 17, the South Beloit School District has offered families in-person learning as well as a virtual learning option.

“It’s given our families the opportunity to review our program and remove the fear of this year,” Fisher said.

At the start of the year, 69% of students were in-person learning. When students return after winter break on Jan. 7, Fisher said the district will be up to 80% in-person learning.

Fisher said online and in-person instruction has gone well although it means additional duties for teachers. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused duties to expand for teaching staff.

Virtual students are assigned a classroom which is simultaneously being run in-person. The teachers must run their in-person classes as well as reach out to engage virtual students and post their online assignments as well as be available for calls and emails from families after hours. Classrooms typically have 17 or 18 students, often including three to four who are in remote learning.

Teachers also must do constant supervision, ensuring students are wearing masks and are socially distanced at all times.

“Our teachers have done a terrific job,” Fisher said.

In addition to teachers other staff have increased cleaning and sanitation duties to their workload as well as extra communication and support with families in virtual learning.

The South Beloit School District had in-person and virtual learning from Aug. 17 to Nov. 24. Then the district followed Winnebago County Health Department recommendations to go to remote learning over Thanksgiving break Nov. 30 to Dec. 18 followed by having its holiday break Dec. 19 to Jan. 6. Students will return in person on Jan. 7.

Since the beginning of the year on Aug. 17 the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has been as follows: Clark Elementary School, 6; Riverview Elementary School, 3; Blackhawk, 1; South Beloit Junior High, 3; and South Beloit High School, 10.

Fisher commended parents, the board and all staff for working together to make in-person learning a possibility.

“We are proud we have been able to keep in person learning going,” he said.