Boothbay Region Elementary School pre-K through fifth graders have been resilient since coming back to school Sept. 8, said Principal Shawna Kurr. While not everything has gone according to plan, students, staff and parents have taken the new approaches to education and sudden changes in stride, she said.
“The kids have been phenomenal. They know what to do, they're doing it and we're not having any issues … I would say the hardest part for humans in general throughout all of this is maintaining three to six feet of distance. That is certainly the most challenging part we have … but the kids just take it in stride.”
Kurr said on the first day of school, sixth, seventh and eighth grade teachers could be seen leaving their empty classrooms to wander the halls and listen to all the kids coming into the school and going to class for the first time since March.
Week one of the virtual academy through Edmentum is going as well as can be expected with the spike of schools and programs across the country seeking out online curricula, said Kurr. Some of the issues have been technology glitches and logging in as the company catches up on hiring and training more people.
“We haven't done this type of learning before using another platform. We knew there were going to be bumps and there were … This is new for the teachers having both in person and virtual learners. It’s a lot to manage … but we're working through every single one of them.”
So far, there have been slight changes to fine-tune traffic patterns and students’ arrival and dismissal. Kurr said parents have been great at showing up and taking direction to get kids in and out in the safest and quickest way possible. She said Boothbay Region High School Principal Tricia Campbell and Facilities and Transportation Director Dave Benner are working on one more bus driver and a staggered bus schedule so sixth through 12th graders can start Sept. 28 as planned. “We're eagerly anticipating the arrival of the sixth through eighth graders … I feel like we're in a system and we're all curious to see what's going to stick, what procedures are we implementing that are going to stick for the long term.”
With students, teachers and parents all doing phenomenally, that is not to say the pandemic has not dashed expectations or had its toll emotionally, said Kurr. That is why the outpouring of support from the community has been helpful and lifted everyone, especially when everyone learned some students could not return right away as planned, she said.
“We were devastated that we needed to make that decision because we worked so hard all summer long to avoid that. Every obstacle that would come up, we were overcoming working night and day … It was last minute because we were trying to exhaust all options and avoid it. But the community has been supportive and that, to me, is success. We're so lucky to have such a supportive community even when they don't like something.”