The first day of class for students at Spokane Public Schools is scheduled for September 2nd.
SPOKANE, Washington – Spokane Public Schools students are a week away from returning to the classroom as the new school year is scheduled to begin on September 2nd.
Some restrictions remain as COVID-19 continues to rise across the state and country. Staff and students are required to wear masks indoors on school premises, but some things will go back to what they were before the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is what lessons look like for local elementary and high school students.
A big change at Longfellow Elementary School is the return of students to shared desks instead of individual desks.
“Last year it didn’t feel like school in many ways. So the teachers are excited to be back and it feels like school and I think I keep telling them it’s a masked school is, “said Adam Oakley, principal at Longfellow Elementary School.
Students can again sit down at tables with their classmates as social distancing requirements are reduced from six feet to one meter. Students can face each other this year instead of just facing the front of the room last year.
This will result in more student interactions this year than last year.
“You’ll see kids in groups and you’ll see kids take turns using glue sticks and scissors. Those are the things you know, the skills that are learned in school. Interacting with others is really important. And me think when you walk into a classroom this year it will look a lot more like you would expect than it did last year, “said Oakley.
Students will be eating in their classrooms again, but Oakley said they won’t have to keep taking their masks off and on again this year.
As for the hallways, Oakley said it’s more about scheduling classes when classes move between rooms and break than about putting more rules on the kids.
“I’m in control of this schedule so I can design this on purpose, a class from this end and a class from this end go into prep at the same time and you know, control those traffic patterns so they don’t necessarily cross the hallway “said Oakley.
When kids are on break this year, Oakley says they’ll be able to play freely with their friends in the playground again. Last year he said students could only play in certain areas on certain days and would have to stick with their cohort.
Some things will stay the same this year. Oakley said the surfaces are cleaned regularly and hand sanitizer is available in the classrooms. In fact, he said things like available disinfectants and targeted planning to avoid congestion in the halls could persist after the pandemic ended.
Chris Dunn is close to his freshman year as the Principal of Shadle Park High School and is ready for students to return to the classroom.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing it and seeing kids start decorating school and come back to prepare for soccer and play volleyball and cross country,” said Dunn. “You have children who came to a band camp yesterday and are coming back today. Just seeing them get excited and preoccupied with the things they love. There really is nothing better. It will be great. “
Again, a big change is the social distancing requirements for schools. With this year’s change from 1.80 to one meter, the classrooms can accommodate more desks and students.
One thing that stays the same is social distancing in the halls, although Dunn said it will be more about asking students to be vigilant rather than putting restrictions in place. Dunn also said lockers will continue to be used only in special circumstances, but athletes will continue to have lockers for equipment in facilities such as gyms.
When it comes to many other areas of the school day, Dunn said they are still awaiting further instructions from the state.
“I think these guidelines are still evolving, and this is really going to be something to look forward to over the next week and then probably in the couple of weeks leading up to the start of the school year,” said Dunn.
These guidelines include things like whether students can sit at tables for lunch or whether they must sit in individual chairs. Dunn also said the school is waiting for additional guidance when it comes to higher risk classes like sports and band or choir.