Sonia Sotomayor Elementary staff building separators for classroom tables

Education

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Schools across KELOLAND are getting their buildings ready to welcome students back to class this fall during the pandemic. At Sonia Sotomayor Elementary in Sioux Falls, the staff is coming up with creative ways to provide additional separation for students throughout the facility in areas where it’s hard to practice social distancing.

There’s no shortage of ideas inside a school building and here at Sonia Sotomayor, the staff is working through different prototype separators to be used in classrooms. The favorite so far, one that uses piping and crystal clear window insulator kits.

“Finding a safe way to keep kids separated a little bit from each other,” Vik said.

Principal Tracy Vik says her peers across the district are getting a lot of support from district leaders to outfit their buildings with additional safety measures to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“Our district warehouse now is going to stock all the items to create these so that teachers aren’t running to stores and getting reimbursed from their principals,” Vik said.

Custodian Carmen Hernandez says she can’t wait to see students back in class in a safe way.

“We are missing so much. It’s kind of sad and it’s a new experience for everyone but we need to live with it and learn something,” Hernandez said.

Vik says vendors are offering similar separators anywhere from $30-$50 a student. These are being built for $12 a table.

“We don’t have the budget for that and we certainly don’t want anybody paying for that out of their pockets. This is a less expensive or a cost-effective way to provide at least one additional barrier. There are still a million questions that people have and we’re working diligently to try to get answers to each one of those,” Vik said.

In the meantime, they’re going to continue to be creative.

“We’ve been told that we’re coming back to class and I believe that kids will come and they’re going to thrive here. Our job is to make the safest and best environment for kids to learn and grow,” Vik said.

Vik says these efforts are taking place in every building in the district.

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