Clarkston schools see successful start to in-person classes, mask compliance
The first two days of in-person school went off without a hitch at Clarkston schools, reported the district.
The school district has implemented a hybrid, half-and-half learning model, where students spend a portion of the week on campus and the rest at home. Only half of the students are on campus at any given time. About one in seven Clarkston students have opted to do their lessons entirely online.
Superintendent Thaynan Knowlton said there appears to be no end-of-summer blues among the kids who are back in the school buildings — he noted that the students were “giddy” to be back in-person with their classmates for the first time in half a year.
“It’s this idea that school is really a privilege and they’re excited to be at school … 100% of our kids right now are here because they’re choosing to be here,” Knowlton said.
He believes it’s for this reason the students are working so hard to keep masks on all day and follow social distancing orders. Knowlton said while the district initially “was concerned whether or not mask compliance would be a problem,” kids of all ages are stepping up and sticking to the rules diligently.
“There have been no issues as far as mask compliance. Kids are wanting to be at school and eat lunch together and go outside, and even outside they’re keeping their masks on because they want to spend time talking to each other,” he said. “They’re so grateful that there’s any kind of school at all, that they’re just happy to do whatever we ask.”
Teachers and students are wiping down desks, chairs, and other high-touch areas between classes. Drinking fountains are turned off, and teachers are monitoring younger children during breaks outside to make sure they stay in small groups. Lunch and class time alike are encouraged to take place outdoors, as long as the warm weather lasts. The district does have a phased plan in the event of a coronavirus outbreak at the schools.
“It’s really just going well … Our focus right now is less correction and more compassion and more connection,” Knowlton said. “We’re trying to build really strong relationships right now.”
The start of the school year almost didn’t go as smoothly; things came down to the wire when a personal protective equipment order that had been placed months before did not arrive until Tuesday evening, the night before school started.
“We were worried, we honestly were,” Knowlton said. “We’ve been planning this for six months … but, boy, we have a great staff who have overcome some obstacles.”
His team worked late into the evening itemizing the protective gear and handing them out to the schools.
Now, Knowlton is looking forward to the coming weeks, and enjoying seeing the students and teachers in-person again.
“We all missed them and we’re just excited to have them back,” Knowlton said of the students.