Kathlene Thomson, new district superintendent/principal at Pine-Strawberry School

Kathleen Thompson is the district superintendent/principal at Pine-Strawberry School.

Pine-Strawberry Elementary School kids will be going back to their actual classrooms for the 2020/21 school year, said Superintendent Kathleen Thompson.

A small group of parents, teachers and board members met earlier this month to outline a plan for P-S students. The plan is still being fine-tuned, but they are ready to educate students.

“For the most part they are ready to have the kids back, to get back to as normal as they can,” Thompson said of teachers.

“The governor came out and said we can’t go back until Aug. 17,” said Thompson. “Classes will start (July 29) online until the 17th and then we will bring the students into school.”

With a student population of about 120, Thompson said that they have the advantage of being able to socially distance the kids in small class sizes.

“We are under 15 students in most classes,” she said. “Our largest class is possibly 20 students, we plan to cut that class in half.” While half the class in is math, the other half will be in music, she explained. Classes like music, art, P.E., and computer provide the school opportunities to keep classes small and children engaged.

To specifically address COVID-19 concerns, Thompson said they have tasked one maintenance employee with the job of disinfecting everything as often as needed. Teachers are asked to streamline their classrooms, no extra furniture or decor, keep it clean. Student desks have been spaced apart.

Kindergarten through third-grade students will wear face shields, along with teachers. Older kids and other staff will wear masks, provided by the district, Thompson said.

As the plan is still in progress, school lunch periods have yet to be defined. In a normal school year, P-S had three lunch periods broken out by classes. To keep students socially distant, it may take four or five lunch periods. Students will be distanced and facing the same direction, with cafeteria staff bringing the lunch to the kids.

From July 29 until Aug. 17, parents can pick up breakfast and lunch from the school. Contact the school at 476-3283 to get the details.

There are one or two staff members who are considered at risk, and it is likely there are parents who may not be ready to send their child back to the school out of concern for family members at home. Thompson said they have a plan for that.

There will be one teacher dedicated to the online classroom for those students whose family prefers to continue remote learning.

The board is working with staff member concerns as well, she added.

For more information, clarification and to hear the answers for yourselves, they invite parents to a meeting on Monday, Aug. 3 at 5:30 p.m. in the elementary school cafeteria. Bring your questions and masks. Thompson and staff will outline the plan.

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