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Inside look at your child’s return to school in Kanawha County

Published: Sep. 1, 2020 at 6:51 PM EDT
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ST. ALBANS, W.Va. (WSAZ) - For many educators across the country, the summer break was very brief as they’ve spent the last several months preparing school buildings for the return of students.

WSAZ went on a walking tour of Lakewood Elementary in St. Albans to see what changes are being made.

“We have this one even lower for our little fellas so they can just get their hand sanitizer when they need to and it’s right at their level,” said Principal Kelly Haynes.

Hand sanitizing stations are located throughout the hallways; some have even been placed lower on the wall so that younger children can reach it.

Hallways have been labeled with tape to create one directional flow of traffic. There are also markings to ensure students are spaced 6 feet apart, and only one class at a time will be in the hallway.

“We know the other three students who have also sat at that same table, even though we’ve sanitized and have taken the appropriate precautions, we’re going to know which children have sat there,” Haynes said.

Many schools are making changes specifically to their cafeterias, where many worry is the biggest chance of exposure since students won’t be wearing masks while they eat. Lakewood Elementary is making sure the flow of traffic doesn’t pass by students who are already eating with their mask off.

Tables are set up socially distanced and an assigned seating chart will be followed to help with contract tracing, should a student contract the virus.

“A lot of kindergarten students don’t know how to open the Lunchable,” Haynes said. “Now I have an adult that has to open that and normally we would love to do that and it’s not a problem, but now I’m trying to eliminate any of that type of thing.”

Parents should place any tricky items in individual plastic bags or try and practice with their children to make sure they’re able to serve themselves.

Sharing learning tools will also be a thing of the past for kindergartners. Instead of learning stations, each student will be assigned a weekly plastic bin that will include their item.

“This child may have his Legos, those will be his Legos for the week,” Haynes said.

By keeping activities separated it’s easier to clean, sanitize and disinfect. For group projects, they’ve installed plexiglass dividers for classrooms.

“Students would still wear their mask and appropriate PPE but at least they could be a little closer together and collaborate and work,” Haynes said.

Open house this year was by appointment only, allowing teachers time to clean in between each family. This also gave virtual students an opportunity to meet their teacher before the start of the school year, test out their equipment and ask any questions.

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