LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – Friday marks the first day back in the classroom for students and teachers in Waverly, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, the welcome back from teachers to students is looking much different.
Terese Brown teaches at Hamlow Elementary. Normally, she’d greet her students every morning, literally, with open arms, giving them hugs and high-fives, but Friday, you won’t see any of that. That’s not the only change; even her classroom doesn’t look the same.
Desks now sit six feet apart, with extra bookshelves being taken out to make more space. Many things are being color coded, including lockers, folders and lunch sticks, which’ll also help keep distance between kids. This allows only three or four children to do things at one time.
Since everyone will be wearing masks, greetings like air hugs, waving, thumbs up and giving compliments will become the new norm.
“I’m very like, ‘Get down on their level,’ and I’m [normally] right next to them. I won’t be able to do that this year. I’ll have to do it more from a distance. So, things are going to be tricky, but we’re going to be very flexible. We’re going to do whatever we can just to stay in school because this is where kids need to be,” said Terese Brown, a second grade teacher at Hamlow Elementary in Waverly.
Kids will also help keep things clean around the classroom. They’re being asked to apply kid-friendly sanitizer to desks and chairs three times throughout the day.
With all of the changes due to COVID-19, staff wanted to make sure kids also didn’t lose their focus this year. That’s why they’ve come up with a phrase you can see posted all around the school.
“Better Together” signs hang up in classrooms, the lunch room and in hallways. The motto even encouraged staff and parents to create an outside circuit area where kids will be allowed to take mask breaks, get some fresh air and stay active.
When 10/11 asked faculty what the motto meant exactly, their explanation of it was simple.
“Everybody and all the teachers are so excited to get back into school. We want nothing more than to just be with our kids and teaching them because that is our expertise. We are here to teach your kids,” Brown said.
Brown also told 10/11 it was difficult trying to individually help struggling students during the time of remote learning. She said she’s happy she has the chance to do more one-on-one instruction now that they’re back in the classroom.
Along with other safety measures, kids will be dropped off using color coded entrances into the school. Staff said this should help limit the amount of students gathering in close spaces before the school day starts.
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