By Marsha Sandman | CNA Media Team
Seven-year-old Ariana (Ari) now attends first grade inside Faubion Elementary School. Until April 2, all of her first grade studies were at home.
School closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic had come on suddenly in March 2020 and sent Portland Public Schools students home from their classrooms. No one was prepared for such an event, so it was quite a challenge for the teachers and the school district to get everyone and everything up and running.
Ari’s online learning was a combination of video conferencing and computer lessons created by the school district. Kids learn at different levels, and addressing these needs virtually was quite the challenge.
Classes included reading, math, art, dance, science, health and problem solving.
Ari’s family helped to supplement her education with additional challenges – not an easy task for some families. The children in her class appeared eager to engage with each other and their teacher in their relatively short video windows four days each week.
Ari said she liked learning at home because she could be with her family, but she missed seeing her classmates and her teacher face to face.
She had a bit of a sleepless night before her first day inside the classroom. All those months of masks, extra hygiene, space and caution had contributed to some panic.
Ari reported she was excited and happy, but a bit nervous. When she encountered her 10 classmates, met her teacher face to face and learned the rules, she relaxed into the routine.
Pick-up and drop-off procedures, hygiene and bathroom breaks have been explained to parents, who are not permitted in the building and who meet their students at specified locations.
Stringent rules are established for absentee students and illnesses. If students have COVID-like symptoms, they are sent to the Symptom Room, screened by the health assistant and likely sent home. They remain home until the county determines it is safe to return. Class is only 135 minutes, four days a week with no recess and no lunch in the classroom.
Getting up at 7 a.m. is no fun. Only a few classes are in session from 8 to 10:15 a.m. A second group of students arrives at 12:15 p.m.
But arriving home by 10:30 a.m. with a sack lunch is not a bad deal for an active little girl.
Ari said she’s very happy to walk home from school, play and picnic outside with her new schoolmates.
After living east, south, north and west, Marsha Sandman is home at last. And she wants to hear your story. Contact her at MarshaJSandman@ gmail.com.