School started for St. Mary’s Catholic School on August 27.
But with the COVID 19 Pandemic, this year is not school as usual.
“We have moved our 3rd/4th grade combination classroom into our gym space, to ensure that there is at least six feet between all students,” Josh Regan, St. Mary’s Principal, said. “From the very beginning, one of our top priorities has been to make sure that there is adequate social distancing in every classroom.”
Regan knows the school is fortunate to be small enough to be able to social distance, and that not all schools have this ability, he said.
Regan is thankful for the cooperation of staff and the community in setting the school up for the start of school.
“I want to commend our 3rd/4th grade classroom teacher, Amber Russell, for her hard work in creating a classroom space in just a couple of weeks,” Regan said. “She really went above and beyond in making that space not only conducive to learning but also inviting and comfortable for kids.”
“We also want to thank Matt Ida and Brian McGowan at Extrusions Inc. for their generous help in constructing temporary walls for that classroom,” Regan said.
The administration and staff want to maximize time the students can be without a facemask, one of the ways they are following government guidelines to stop the spread of the disease, he said.
” We want to maximize the time that kids can be kids, without the restriction of a facemask that we feel strips away part of our God-given human connection with others since we cannot see concealed faces,” Regan said. “Communication is damaged and relationships are much more difficult to build when we cannot tell whether a child is frustrated, sad, happy, or somewhere in between based on their expression!!”
“So much communication is nonverbal, especially in how a teacher reads the emotions of students and how kids interact with each other,” he said. ” Our kids wear masks as mandated, but we have worked hard to maximize time outside where they can remove masks safely and laugh, talk, and enjoy the time with their friends! ”
Students bring beach towels to school each week to spread out on the school’s lawn to eat lunch.
” About a month before school we also started asking school families, parishioners, and community members to allow us to borrow any picnic tables that we could get our hands on,” he said. “A couple of our families even anonymously bought and donated outdoor tables.”
“Our teachers frequently take classes outside and use the tables to distance kids with masks off,” Regan said.
In addition, the school has all its’ physical education classes outside.
“It has worked out great for us, mostly because God has blessed us with beautiful weather so far this year,” Regan said.