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Columbia Public Schools staff members prepare for elementary students to return


Elementary schools will soon be full of students as Columbia Public Schools starts a four-day week in-person learning method on Monday amid COVID-19.

The Board of Education approved the return of Pre K through 5th-grade students returning to school building four days a week to learn in-person on Monday, Oct. 12th. 

CPS teachers, faculty, staff, students and parents are all preparing for the transition in a week’s notice. 

Lillian Hoell, a Fairview Elementary School Counselor, said there may be some hurdles to jump throughout in the first week as students and teachers were just getting the hang of virtual learning.

“It will be a challenge to come back tomorrow to completely change what we're doing,” said Hoell. “But I know that they (teachers) have done a lot, a lot of hard work. I mean it's, we've got a bunch of cars here today because people are here just trying to get ready for their kiddos.”

CPS teachers now have to readjust classrooms to fit all students as social distancing will not always be possible, rather than a previously discussed hybrid plan that would bring back around half of the number of students at one time. 

Ariel Schwarting, Grant Elementary Third Grade Teacher, said this week she’s been trying to figure out how she can make her classroom function the best it can while keeping all of the students separated in their own little zone.

"I did have to… put more chairs places out and refigure as far as my seating chart goes,” said Schwarting. “How to fit all of the students at each table as safely as I could."

But trying to figure out those tasks in the classroom wasn't the hardest part Schwarting said. She said it’s preparing things mentally like how to make her students feel welcome and involved while still following precautions and being safe. 

“It's kind of preparing mentally to know, ‘Oh, I can't greet my kids at the door with a high five this year.’ Like that needs to look different,” Schwarting said “And so thinking about how am I going to do that this year."

Both Schwarting and Hoell spoke about how important it is for the community to rally behind what’s happening in the school district and that everyone is doing their part to keep others safe. 

"The decisions that are made, are made,” said Hoell.  “And we just need to help kids feel good about them and just be positive, so that kids know that they're safe when they come here and know that we're doing everything that we can for them."

Boone / Columbia / Columbia Public Schools / Education / K-12 education / Top Stories
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Amber Tabeling

Amber joined the ABC 17 News team as a multimedia journalist in December 2019. She was a student-athlete at Parkland College and Missouri Valley College. She hails from a small town in Illinois.


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