WINSTON — Red arrows on the floor show Brockway Elementary students which way to go and fliers on the wall serve as frequent reminders to socially distance and frequently wash hands.
“We’re excited to get kids back in school and overall the feedback from families has been real positive,” Principal Kerry Dwight said.
On Monday, when school starts in the Winston-Dillard School District, parents will drop their children off at the outside doors. Each classroom has a door that leads outside, which will limit the amount of students congregating in the hallway at one time.
Instructional assistants from McGovern Elementary School, as well as those from Brockway, will be on hand to help direct people where to go.
“I think the biggest difference is going to be the transitions,” Dwight said. “You can’t just say ‘everybody line up for lunch.’ It’s going to be ‘OK, everybody in the red group, go get lunch. Everybody in the orange group, go.’ To make sure that they stay in their cohort.”
Inside the classrooms, desks are spaced out and cubbies are color coded and teachers will be wearing facemasks.
These are some of the many small changes made inside the building.
Overall, Dwight estimates the school spent between $5,000 to $6,000 to get the building to meet the state standards.
Winston-Dillard School District received just over $435,000 in COVID-19 relief funds to help with upgrades, including new desks and technology for online learning, according to the Oregon Department of Education.
The biggest cost at Brockway was ordering individual desks for the kindergarten classrooms.
In previous years, students sat at large table and worked in small groups, but because of social distancing guidelines that wouldn’t be possible this year.
“Everybody’s kind of more spread out,” Dwight said. “It kind of went from collaborate small groups back to what I imagine my parents had, which is straight rows and listen to the teacher for direct instruction. Collaborations are going to be a challenge.”
Similar group learning structures were used in all other classrooms as well.
“A lot of learning is giving them time to think and they think with a partner and share ideas and think as a class and we come up with ideas,” third grade teacher Miranda Haaby said. “A lot of kids are shy and struggle because they don’t think they have the answer. Working in small groups they all come up with answers.”
Haaby had to adjust her teaching plans and said she would incorporate more work in Google Classroom as well.
“I want to be prepared to switch to online learning, just in case,” Haaby said.
Douglas County is one of 15 counties in Oregon that met the state standards to start on-site instruction for kindergarten through third grade.
Dwight estimated about 30 to 40% of students opted for Comprehensive Distance Learning for a variety of reasons.
Some teachers will also be teaching exclusively online, while others will be in the classroom.