INSIDE LOOK: Are schools prepared for in-person learning?

I-Team

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Starting Monday, elementary school students will begin full-time in-person learning once again. 22News got an inside look at a school in Springfield as they prepare to welcome kids back to the classroom.

Some of these students haven’t been inside a classroom in over a year now. On Monday they will be able to see their friends and teachers again. The 22News I-Team wanted to know what will be different, and what is being done to keep students and staff members safe during this transition.

“We’re just so excited. We’ve waited for this day for a long time. We are glad that it’s finally safe to get our kids back in the classroom.” Principal Amy Clark

Students at Veritas Prep Charter School in Springfield have been learning remotely through this COVID-19 pandemic. Monday 5th graders will finally be welcomed back to the classroom for full, in-person learning, this will be the first time most of them have ever stepped foot inside their school building.

“They are a little nervous to see the space for the first time. But they are so excited to meet their teachers, and most of all they are excited to see their friends.” Principal Amy Clark

Principal Amy Clark gave the 22News I-Team an inside look a how the school is preparing to keep staff and students safe. Some of the changes kids will notice include desks spaced further apart, masks will be mandatory, you won’t be able to drink directly out of the water fountains, and plastic protection is up.

The school will be putting tables and chairs under a tent outside so students can spread out during lunch, and take a mask break. At the end of the day students will have to pack up all their stuff and bring it home everyday.

5th grade teachers Tess Mangelli and Shaina Myslinski said they are excited to finally have their students back in the classroom.

“Not seeing the kids, not feeling the kids in the room has been really hard. they are there on Zoom, but it’s much different than having them in person.” Tess Mangelli

“I think we are going to do the best we can. I think it’s going to be a day by day sort of thing and we will get used to it as we go.” Shaina Myslinski

In Chicopee, students in the elementary schools have been hybrid learning with grades K through 3rd with in-person 4 days a week. While grades 4 and 5 have been in the classroom 2 days a week. On Monday all elementary students will be making the switch to in person learning 5 days a week.

Superintendent Lynn Clark said they are ready to welcome their students back. “This allows more socialization. It allows for you to see different environments. It allows for face to face with teachers.”

It’s a change, she said, most parents are happy about too. “I think they felt the brunt of this, even though we’ve said over and over, don’t stress let us worry about this, it was stressful. Some of them could not go to work, or couldn’t go to work 5 days a week.

The Massachusetts Teachers Union has urged the state to delay in-person learning until at least April 26th to give staff more time to get vaccinated. Parents still have the option to keep their kids home if they are not comfortable with in-person learning just yet.

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