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PREVIEW: Rockford schools return to in-person learning this year but technology is making a dramatic comeback

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — Something we all learned last year is that school is much more than a place to learn. It's a place where teachers can collaborate with one another and where students can get the support they may need. But during COVID-19, technology became that place to learn, that place to connect and that place to get answers.

Some students and staff blossomed in the new digital age while others sat at the computer screen confused.

Rockford Public Schools Educational Technology Director Susan Uram says it was all about working with what they had.

"Last year our hand was forced and we knew that what we were doing, in terms of remote and screen time, weren't necessarily what was best for kids but what we had to do," said Uram.

Each experience might have had different outcomes last year but the 2021-2022 school year is looking to get back on track even when it comes to the use of technology.

"I think one of our important takeaways was understanding that there had to be a balance. When we are in school, it's not about individual screen time. Nothing can replace that teacher, that collaboration, that communication in the classroom," said Uram.

Another school trying to find balance this year is Galapagos Rockford Charter School.

"Now it just seems natural and so the great thing is that we are now providing services and expanding our services well beyond what we could have done before," said CEO of Galapagos Rockford Charter School Michael Lane.

Eighth grader Allanna Roberson says she appreciates the expanded technology in the classroom this year because she considers herself a computer wiz. She says she even helps per parents from time to time.

"Moving forward, I feel like technology would be a big part of our learning process at school, but we kind of got there earlier than we probably would have since the pandemic happened," said Roberson, a Galapagos student.

Even though the pandemic may have catapulted society into a new digitalized world, bringing those skills and those technologies back to the classroom comes with some big questions and a new path to navigate.

"Actually focus on trying to move us all forward and use the technology in a better way and a smarter way," said RPS 205 Educational Technologies Innovation Teacher Dallas Turner.

Tune in to 13 News at 5 and 10 p.m. on Thursday to learn more on how schools are balancing a year where technology is making a dramatic comeback.