SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – In just about two weeks, the Sioux Falls School District will welcome students back to the classroom. However, after being gone for five months, it’s going to look different. And teachers have new preparations to help keep students safe.
In her 23 years of teaching kindergarten at John Harris Elementary School, Robin Mediger never expected what this year brought.
“Even when they said we were taking a week off, I thought we’d be back right away. I never thought that it would last that long,” Mediger said.
On August 27th, Mediger will welcome students back to her classroom.
“Where the kids are seated are all at least three feet apart. So I’m trying to find a floor space for each of them so that they can listen to my instruction and also a place where they can work, like a tablespace where they are at least three feet apart or with a partition or divider,” Mediger said.
Despite the coronavirus, Mediger says she’s not worried about having kids back at school.
“I think that we can do it. I think that we can keep them safe, we can keep ourselves safe. I think that we can still do lots of learning and still fill up the school with lots of laughter,” Mediger said.
And that in-person learning is something she believes is important.
“They need to be at school. They need to be with peers. They need to be interacting with people, taking turns, learning how to play a game, they need that to be successful in life,” Mediger said.
Dawn Sigl is also preparing her first-grade classroom for students to come back to Robert Frost Elementary School.
“As soon as the janitors were done cleaning my room, I asked if I could come in because I really needed to process this. Which, I came in probably end of June and have been in here quite a bit to try to figure out how to make it work,” Sigl said.
The 26 first-graders in Sigl’s classroom will be seated in desks with barriers between them. Sigl says she’d be lying if she said she didn’t have any worries about heading into the school year during a pandemic.
“I’m not 20. So I understand that I could get sick from it but I’m trying to do everything that I can to make sure that I feel safe, the kids feel safe and that parents come into this environment and have their kids feeling safe,” Sigl said.
She feels a big difference this year will be what happens when kids return.
“After 25 years, I’m pretty good at what I need to do each day. Now this year, all of those things have changed. So when we come in here the first day of school, what’s the very first thing? We have masks on that we’re not used to wearing that we need to talk about. We need to talk about not putting holes in our fancy new barriers that we have. So, those are the kinds of things I think teachers are going to have to work through,” Sigl said.
Sigl asks for patience as teachers and schools work to figure everything out.
“Schools are doing the best they can. Elementary schools, high schools, middle schools, we’re all working to try to get out kids back in the classroom here in Sioux Falls. I think the plan is coming together great,” Sigl said.