CHESTERFIELD Co., Va. (WWBT) - Many schools in the area are going all-virtual this fall, but St. Edward Epiphany Catholic School has opted for the hybrid route.
School leaders at St. Edward Epiphany Catholic School say although 85% of the school will be in person and only 15% online - safety is their number one priority and they’re equipped with a flexible, yet creative plan to keep kids safe.
“The time is now. We’ve done the work and now it’s time to get the kids back,” said principal, Tracy Hamner.
Starting Aug. 24, the Catholic school will be opening back up for the first time since March 13 when governor Northam ordered all schools to shut down.
“When the governor laid out his phases approach and the phase two and three approach, the Diocese of Richmond quickly decided we were going to reopen face-to-face,” said Hamner.
Now months after the orders, the school feels they have a plan in place with the proper safety considerations.
Outside of each classroom in the hallways are hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes for kids to uses while entering and leaving the classroom, and extra handwashing stations have been put outside of the classrooms.
Inside the classrooms, desks are 6-feet apart, students must wear their mask at all times, and a Plexiglas barrier has been installed between the teacher and the students.
“The room is social distant, so the teacher can feel confident and the students feel confident as well,” said Hamner.
Along with classroom etiquette, water fountains have been shut off, but water bottle filters have been added so students can still get water.
Upon arrival at the school, students are assigned to one of three separate entrances based on their grade level to ensure groups aren’t mixing.
“If something does happen, we’re prepared. We don’t have to shut the whole school. We can focus, we can contact trace, and we can follow the protocols set forward,” said Hamner.
Principal Hamner has seen how COVID-19 has affected other schools and universities in the area who’ve opened back up but stressed that his school is prepared, and won’t live in fear.
“Our theme this year is ‘with God, all things are possible,’ and that doesn’t resonate more than right now - this is a time when our world needs and our kids need to be back in school,” said Hamner.
Now the school’s message here is “we’re in this together and that each day is a learning experience.”
If at any time parents feel the need to pull their child out of school, officials say it’s OK and parents can enroll students in online courses.
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