LANSING, Mich. — Covid cases, spiking across the country forcing schools to once again return to virtual learning. But Chris Conte shows us how one school is keeping in-person learning safe by moving their classes outdoors.
It is easy out here to forget, a momentary escape from a year where beauty has often been hard to come by. Last one out closes the door for students at James Faulker Elementary.
The walk to school looks different this year. This is where you say the number you see like teachers across the country, anxiety was filling the inside of Jacquie Cornwell's all summer, so she decided to roll the dice, and move her lessons outside.
We do know that COVID has been a really challenging time for adults and kids every day. For three hours a day, Jacquie Cornwell's third and forth graders setup their classroom in the woods.
Away from the confines of their school building, this outdoor classroom has brought a sense of normalcy and safety. Being outdoors is another layer of protection "the New Hampshire air is plentiful out here, no concerns about ventilation."
With the risk of spreading COVID lower students can even take off their masks sometimes.
Using place value strategies to add, Jacqui Cornwell has also realized the beauty of mother nature's pallet has helped foster a better learning environment.
"It’s really turned something that could’ve made this year horrible, sitting in desks, facing forward, not playing with friends, into one of the best years I’ve had in my nine years of teaching" and while these outdoor classrooms are helping keep kids safe from COVID it’s also helping with their mental health, during some incredibly challenging times.
"All of their stresses, anxieties and negative behaviors really seem so much less when we can come outdoors. Dozens of states are returning to virtual learning because of spikes in COVID cases, even out here, removed from the world."
Brie Bell worries about being sent home again. "It wasn’t normal, I didn’t like it too much, at my house we don’t have good internet so it’s hard." But this 10 year old and her classmates have taken pride in this outdoor space they've built by hand.
They've hung hammocks for reading time. Even built a fire pit for the colder months. "We finally get to take our masks off and chill in the woods with nice fresh air." "While we’re here and we can be together we’re going to make the best of it."
If COVID has taught these students and teachers anything, it's resiliency. Hopefully this is the year they remember that they got to learn outside versus this is when they went to school during COVID and they’re happy.
In a year like this, that is worth remembering. I feel like they’re having these impactful experiences they’re going to carry with them for the rest of their lives
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