BILLINGS, Mont. - In recent months, pen pal programs have sprouted up around the world to keep people connected. Now, in a time of social distancing, a teacher at Elysian Elementary School is using letters to keep her students in touch with their classmates who are learning virtually.

In Kim Liter's hybrid third grade class, she has both in-person and remote students. Liter says she wanted a fun way to keep her students connected with one another, so that when her remote students come back next school year, their bonds and relationships remain the same.

For many of Liter's students, it's their first time writing a letter. Third grader Caden says it's different writing a letter because he's used to using technology to connect with friends. But students didn't let the change in communication dull their excitement.

Third grader Adalynn says her favorite part of writing the letter was that she was able to ask questions to her remote classmate and stay connected even though she's not in class. Their friends learning virtually say they feel the same way.

Remote learning third grade student Jackson was ecstatic to receive his pen pal letters. Jackson says the most exciting part is being able to see what his friend's responses are to his letters.

Liter's pen pal program is not only keeping her remote students from feeling isolated, but also gives them something to look forward to.

"In this time they need each other and they need to know that we support them and we are there to guide them through this crazy situation now," Liter said.

After winter break, students will switch pen pals to give them a chance to connect with other classmates.

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