SPRINGDALE, Ark. — The start of school is right around the corner and teachers in our area are beginning to figure out what their classrooms will look like come Aug. 24.
“Right now it’s about three feet apart, to get 25 desks in here and I have all my shelves and stuff pushed against along the wall so we have as much open space,” said teacher Michelle McEntire.
McEntire teaches third grade at Bayyari Elementary School in Springdale and Monday (Aug. 3) was the first day she stepped back into her classroom since March.
“Things were in a pile, shelves that were over here were over there. So everything was just moved around after they cleaned and disinfected. So it’s overwhelming coming in and things just aren’t where you left them," McEntire said.
As students return for the first day of school, there will be COVID-19 policies in place to keep them safe.
The policies include hand sanitizing stations at the entrance of each classroom, each desk will be wiped down at the end of every school day, and each student gets their own supplies.
“Yes, the unknown is a little scary, but I know we are putting every safety precaution into place to make it a safe place to come back to,” McEntire said.
She says she's thrilled to be able to see her students walk back into the classroom once again, although she admits it is definitely worrisome.
"Every teacher is stressed when school starts back up so this whole thing on top of that definitely adds a whole other level of stress and concern but I’ve been with my school leadership team and we’ve been talking for weeks now and meeting on zoom talking about what our reopening plan is going to look like for our school," McEntire said.
Right now, 1,500 of the 23,000 students in the district have enrolled for virtual learning for the upcoming school year.
To accommodate those students, Springdale Schools have installed WiFi in every school parking lot in the district.
“Just come to the school parking lot, you don’t even have to come in. Download your assignment all that, go home do it, come back,” said Rick Schaeffer, Communications Director for Springdale Public Schools.
With nearly 6% of students opting for virtual learning, Schaeffer says the goal is to have all students return no matter what learning model they choose.
“We want all of them back. Whether they come back blended, five days a week or virtual. We have 23,000 and we want every one of them back," he said.
For the 2020-2021 school year, Springdale Schools has released three learning models students can choose from. The deadline to make a decision is Friday (Aug. 7).
Springdale Schools will not be allowing plexiglass shields in the classrooms because it goes against the fire code.