APPLETON, Wis. (NBC26) -- Without sports, the ability to see friends daily, and in-person learning, some Appleton parents say their kids look like a shell of their former self.
That’s why Mindi Blake is happy to have her two children back in school.
"I’m nervous because they haven’t been in a classroom," Blake said. "And they’ve been on a computer."
Starting Jan. 19, the Appleton Area School District is giving students of every grade the chance to move back to in-person learning for the first time in nearly a year.
"It’s very important that parents and families have the opportunity to make the choice what is safest for their family without having to also consider what is academically best," Wilson/Magellan Middle School associate principal Deb Moreland said.
For Blake, as a parent, it’s a welcomed opportunity. She says her kids suffered from all-virtual learning.
"My kids aren't the kids they were last February," Blake said. "They are more internal now."
As a paraprofessional at Wilson-Magellan Middle, Blake believes in-person learning will change students for the better.
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"I think it’s going to be quiet," she said. "The classrooms are gonna be quieter for a bit. But I'm excited to see what it'll be like a week after school starts and see them start to come out of their shells."
Some Appleton school leaders say virtual learning isn't the same as the real thing.
"Talking to a student when they’re struggling or when they do something well… to complement them [in person] is so much different than doing it over a Google Meet," Moreland said.
So parents like Blake are excited. She says she’s happy to have her outgoing, spirited kids back.
"They’re not used to it, so it’s gonna be different for these kids," Blake said. "But it’s good. They need to be around people."
The Appleton School Board says K-4 students will return in person every day. For those in grades 5-12, students can return in person twice a week in a hybrid model.