Little, masked heads popped out from behind from car windows to heartfelt calls of “Good Morning!” at William R Buckley Elementary School Monday morning.
Students climbed out of their vehicles after being temperature checked, entered campus through their specified gate, and headed to in-person classes. For many students, it was their first time on campus since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Burton School District welcomed back students in expanded transitional kindergarten (ETK) through sixth grade on Monday. Unlike the weeks before when only small cohorts of students could come to campus, any student who wanted to come back is now able to.
“It’s such an exciting time,” principal Angela Boudreaux said. “Our teachers did a really good job on distance learning but to be able to offer the opportunity for in-person instruction is just incredible. Every person that wants to be back on campus is back on campus and we’re just so excited to have them.”
Lines of cars flowed into the street and Boudreaux estimated 60 percent of the student body would be back on campus.
Under the district’s hybrid model, one group of students, Group A, arrives in the morning for in-person instruction from 8 to 10:50 a.m. After students leave, the campus is disinfected from 11 to 12:15 p.m. before the next group, Group B, arrives for instruction from 12:25 to 3:05 p.m.
“We have an AM session and a PM session,” Boudreaux explained. “My teachers that we just saw, they’re teaching in the morning with students and then in the afternoon they’re going to be teaching online. Some of my teachers are teaching in the morning, AM, and in the PM. The majority of them have an AM in-person and a PM distance-learning. But there are some that have a PM in-person and AM distance-learning. So we staggered it so that way we didn’t have everybody on campus at the same time to keep it safe. That’s our first priority. Obviously, we’re here to educate but to keep everyone safe and healthy as well, as we’re dealing with this pandemic.”
Along with hybrid learning and temperature checks, Burton took other steps to ensure the safety of students and staff on campus. For example, arrivals and drop-off times are staggered and students enter through different gates based on their grade. Blue X’s, which will soon be turned to paw prints at Buckley, mark off six feet of distance to keep students separated. Sanitization stations are located in several spots around campus and water bottles are provided to students since water fountains are turned off.
In addition to the outdoor safety measures, desks in classrooms are also spaced out to have six feet of physical distance.
Now that students have the opportunity to be back in class, Boudreaux looks forward to seeing students and teachers grow more through these changes.
“We were really able to move into that distance learning and our teachers did a great job teaching students online,” she said. “It was a change but they learned quickly and it was very successful. So we’re excited to see, with them back in-person, how much growth we can make.”
All schools within the district reopened to TK-6 graders with the exception of Summit Charter Intermediate Academy.
For more information on Burton School District’s return to campus visit its website at burtonschools.org.