California Educator

August/September 2020

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are taking care of their parents. It's a very personal decision." Th e scho o l re op en ed it s do ors May 20 and closed for the summer June 11. B e cau se of th e smal l stud ent -t ea ch er ratio, there was true social distancing — 6 fe et ap ar t — w hi ch w i l l li kely b e impossible to replicate in regular class- rooms with 20 or more students. Students arrived at staggered intervals and lined up 6 feet apart on taped markings. As they entered the schools, their temperatures were taken and sanitizer was squirted into their hands. Desks did not have partitions, but everybody wore masks. e school was open from 9 to noon daily. Students were handed a bag lunch as they exited the building. Students were grouped by grade levels, with seven to 10 students per classroom. At first, students were quiet, shy and somewhat intimidated by all the protocols in place, says Andrea Keenan, a TOSA (teacher on special assignment) who decided to return and support the students and teachers on-site while continuing her distance learning programs. "ings were not normal," says Keenan, a member of SDTA. "It felt weird, and stu- dents were nervous. But then it got better. These kids are super social and know each other well from living in this tight- knit community. ey were very happy to see each other." Keenan says she wanted to return b e cause sh e mi ssed hav in g a sense of n orm al c y in h er d ay an d mi ssed the kids. "Yes, it was scary," she admits. "ank goodness nobody got COVID, because I wouldn't want to live with that. But I felt confident because there was going to be social distancing and stringent safety procedures were in place. The cleanings that took place were scheduled and posted. Back then there was very little COVID in Marin County, so I felt secure that what we were doing was OK." (Since then, COVID-19 has risen dra- matical ly in Marin County, du e to th e t r a n s f e r o f C O V I D - i n f e c t e d i n m a t e s from Southern California prisons to San Q u entin Pri son . Th e inmat es infect ed others, including staff who circulated throughout the Marin community.) "I think it shows returning to school is possible," says Keenan. "It requires a lot of patience and planning." Culley says it was good practice for Aug. 19, when the school is planning to reopen on a larger scale while of fering distance learning for some students. "We are still going to have to figure out how to do lunches. And how to read aloud and do 'pair shares.' We are going to need more guidance on what's OK and what's not. But I think we will be able to move forward with the plan we have in place." T h a t p l a n i n c l u d e s h i r i n g m o r e teachers to reduce the ratio of students to t ea ch ers; c onver tin g th e multipur - pose room, music room and art room to classroom space so students can d o s o c i a l d i s t a n c i n g ; a n d k e e p i n g students in cohorts throughout the day. Bathrooms will need to be desig- nated and usage scheduled, as much as possible. "We are a smaller school, so it's easier for us to do this," says Keenan. "ese are very difficult times. Everyone is try- ing to do what is best for our students, ourselves and our communities." Brandon Culley "I felt confident because there was going to be social distancing and stringent safety procedures were in place." —Andrea Keenan, Sausalito District Teachers Association Andrea Keenan 58 Teaching & Learning

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