St. Regis principal happy to see students again

| September 16, 2020 12:00 AM

The laughter and chatter of students fill the St Regis Schools halls and classrooms once again, even if muffled by masks and face shields. Having children back in school warms the heart.

After working closely with the Mineral County Health Department and a Reopening

Committee, the board approved the plan to allow students back in school Aug 24. The first week was not without its wrinkles, but those issues were resolved and classes are running smoothly.

“We faced a couple of issues with meals and students forgetting log in passwords, and we are still working out some bussing requirements, but everyone agrees that having the students back is wonderful,” Superintendent Joe Steele said.

“A revised bus schedule went out September 4, which took effect the 7th, and the lunch ladies have been working hard to ensure students get a hot meal twice a day. All of the staff at St Regis have done a great job getting the students back into the swing of school and being flexible with the glitches,” he added.

Students have been excellent at wearing their masks on the bus and in the hallways and classrooms. Face shields have been provided for every student and staff member so they can take their mask off and see each other. Having the ability to see each other’s faces is essential for social and emotional well-being, said third grade teacher Julie Burklund.

Kianna Barnett, first grade teacher, added that for the little ones learning to read seeing the teacher’s lips is important.

Meals are served in the classroom, but the lunch ladies, Dawn Palmer and Buffy Cheesman, are looking to serve grab and go from the kitchen to reduce waste and provide more choice for students.

The district has used its Covid Relief funds to purchase the masks and face shields and desk shields to help with social distancing and reduce the spread of germs. In addition, the purchase of electrostatic backpack sprayers and handheld sprayers will enhance and speed up the sanitizing effort by the two new “Covid Busters,” also hired with CRF funds.

Besides the safety equipment, some students have chosen to learn remotely from

home, so the district hired a Classroom-Home Liaison to help families with technology get materials, assisting with lessons, and troubleshooting technology issues.

“The goal is to provide as much support to our remote learners as we do with our in-

person learners,” Steele said. “While parents will have to take on the teaching responsibilities, we learned a few things from the closure that we hope will provide better support for those learners and families.”

School is as back to normal as it can be for students and staff. Even with the masks and shields, temperature checks, and frequent hand sanitizing, having students back in school is a blessing.

- St. Regis principal Joe Steele