A look inside a Mead school as it prepares for in-person learning

MEAD, Wash. – We’re less than three weeks away from students returning to class in the Mead School District. Classrooms are getting set up for kids who will be learning in person.

The district decided that students in kindergarten through fifth grade will be attending school every day. Students in middle and high school will attend school on an alternate schedule.

Families will also have the option to go with remote learning if that is what they’re more comfortable with.

Desks at Farwell Elementary are being spaced six feet apart with stickers on the floor marking the distance. Students sitting in groups are now a thing of the past.

“When students first walk in, I know they’ll be kind of shocked. This is like a testing environment, I totally understand that. But at the same time, the minute that I know, there’s someone else I know here and someone else I know here, and it just feels like school but it looks different,” explained Jared Hoadley, the assistant superintendent of operations for the district.

In a classroom where desks are socially distant, they can only fit about 22 students in a typical room at Farwell Elementary. That’s generally OK for grades kindergarten through fourth; it’s fifth grade that has more students.

So, Hoadley says they’re planning on using the gym to have two fifth grade classes.

“There could be a third classroom, another fifth grade [class], depending on how the data comes in. They could be in the library or another alternative space,” Hoadley said, adding that there’s a chance they could have another fifth grade class in another building.

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Students and staff will have to wear masks in school. Lunch will also be eaten in the classroom rather than in the cafeteria.

In the district’s safety plan, students will be asked to wash their hands when they come into class. Materials won’t be shared in the same way, either.

“If you have a book, we’ll put it away for a few days to make sure that’s OK, and then we’ll bring them back. We have those protocols for those things,” Hoadley said.

School won’t look the same for a while, but Hoadley says giving families that choice to be back is what the school board wanted.

The district asked parents which plan they wanted to go with just recently. Between 70 and 75 percent of families who responded said they want their kid to go back to school. Staff are calling other parents who didn’t respond this week.

Even though it won’t look like it once did, Hoadley said it’s still something to give to students who want to learn in person.

“I don’t think it’s ideal, but I think it’s possible. I think we will find ways to make this work the best to our ability,” he said.

Even though most of the traditional school norms have gone away, one thing will remain the same: kids will still be learning.

To find out more about Mead’s safety plan for reopening and details for remote learning, click here.

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