BENTLEY, Kan. (KSNW) – The community in Bentley has been working hard to get things ready for kids to start the 2020-2021 school year. Part of this effort was to build an outdoor classroom where kids could come back to school while still being able to follow social distancing guidelines.
“We got together as a staff at the beginning of this school year, and we decided that we were going to do everything we could to keep kids in school,” said Principal Adam Conard, Bentley Primary School.
They have been working on the outdoor classroom for just over a week and have made a lot of progress.
“It started with seven volunteers that ranged from several contractors that were parents of children in the school, and then, some people that were handy with tools,”
Conard says a traditional classroom can fit around 20 students. Meanwhile, an outdoor classroom can fit more than 80 students.
“The new classroom is socially distant and able to have upwards to 80 to 90 students in it,” Conard added. “We can actually have an entire grade level in the new area.”
He says the plan was to install a fence near the roadside. But after further deliberation, and the Parent Teacher Organization’s (PTO) help, they were able to move forward with the outdoor classroom.
“The district paid for the roadside fencing, and then after that, our PTO came in and said we’ll do the whole thing,” Conard said.
Canard said the PTO has provided funding for picnic tables, whiteboards, and sunshade structures. Teachers will also be equipped with a rolling microphone system during their lectures.
He said the City of Bentley also granted them temporary permission to block off part of Eagle St. to oncoming traffic.
“It’s temporary access at this point until we can make it more permanent,” said Conard.
How will it work with the changing seasons in Kansas ?
“Obviously, any weather that we are going to experience is going to be similar to your recesses where we can’t go out when it’s raining or snowing or if it’s severe cold,” said Conard.
He hopes the outdoor classrooms become a permanent setting for students at Bentley Primary.
“I want the children to be able to have a variety of learning places,” said Conard.
He says they still need to touch up on a few details but hopes to have everything done a few weeks after Bentley starts its school year.
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