Each September marks the annual return to school. Students, parents and teachers alike head out to purchase new binders, pencils and even clothes. This year marked the need for the newest must have item: face masks. Whether the mask sports a favorite team, has a filter pocket or is disposable, it’s certainly a defining feature of the 2020-21 school year.
The Island Trees School District has been working daily to create a safe environment for all. Before coming to school each day, students, teachers and administrators are required to complete a daily health screening. Upon entering the buildings, masked students are greeted with teachers smiling behind their own masks reminding them to sanitize their hands and walk the hallways while keeping their distance from friends when deep down inside, they crave to socialize with one another.
Once in the classroom, student desks are not only separated from one another, but showcase a new accessory, a barrier. The clear barriers have been attached to the desks as an added precaution. Some early elementary teachers have creatively transformed student desks into school buses with a front windshield for students to navigate throughout the day. Students and teachers are faced with the daily challenges the pandemic has brought to school with a positive attitude; most are happy to be back in school instead of learning or teaching from behind a screen. However, all involved realize the importance of keeping a distance, wearing a mask and washing hands with soap and water.
New to the teaching platform this year was the parent option of remote learning. Families were given the opportunity to have their child learn alongside their classmates from home. By joining a Google Meet, remote students are instantly connected to their teachers and classmates throughout the day. Teachers have seamlessly taken on the new responsibility of instructing not only the students in front of them, but those on the other side of the screen simultaneously. Without fail, the Island Trees teachers have been meeting this new challenge head on, ready to showcase their Bulldog strength.
As social creatures, humans have an instinctive desire to be amongst peers even if it involves working from a distance & behind a barrier all while wearing a mask. The masks will not define the individual, but will instead remind everyone of the true superhero powers our masked heroes possess-perseverance, grit and the love of education.
-Submitted by the United Teachers of Island Trees