SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) —Northwest Arkansas families are getting ready for the first day in the classroom and schools have been preparing for them for months.
Dr. Paul Griep, principal of Har-Ber High School, said out of roughly 2,200 students, about 140 decided to go fully virtual for at least the first semester. This means most students will be in the building at least a few days a week, about 1,200 on any given day.
Doctor Griep said a lot of thought has gone into what is going to be done during lunch time where typically a lot of students are gathered.
Some of the changes include:
- Only one way into and out of the cafeteria as a way to control traffic
- Hand sanitizer throughout the building
- Cutting seating at tables from eight to three. The school has also increased seating locations to allow for more space between the tables.
“We realize that kids have been out of school for five months so that socialization is so important,” Dr. Griep said. “We want them to be able to enjoy eating lunch with their friends.”
At Walker Elementary School, there are normally almost 600 students in school five days a week. This year, there will be under 400.
Even with fewer students, some changes had to be made to keep kids safe, especially during large gathering times like lunch and recess.
- Tables in the cafeteria normally have 8 kids sitting at them, but now there will only be three and they will be assigned to those seats.
- There will only be one grade level eating at a time as opposed to two. Three grade levels will be eating lunch in their classroom.
- There will also be a change in lunch choices. Before students were able to pick up what they wanted to eat. Now it will be served to them.
It’ll be an adjustment, but principal Lynn Ryan said staff are ready for it.
“We are really looking forward to opening up our school doors to our students,” Ryan said. “We want to be able to assist them in meeting gaps that may have been there from summer break and helping them with social/emotional as they come back from having a change in their routines.”
Ryan said some of the other changes include staggering kids as they walk down the hallway, sanitizing playground equipment in between groups, and assigning seats in the classroom to allow for contact tracing.