WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – You may remember her as the teacher who held a place for all her students last year with minions and pandas filling the desks in her classroom while students learned from home.

First-grade teacher Chrissie Barker does not mind teaching virtually. In fact, she says last year’s class thrived online. But she gets emotional thinking about welcoming kids back to the safety of her classroom at William Allen White Elementary this year.

“To say that it was a hard year. That doesn’t even get to where I really feel about it,” Barker said.

Barker missed the personal connections made with students. She fondly calls all her past students “Barker’s babies.” Signage outside her classroom indicates everyone needs “a champion.”

“Every child deserves a champion, and I hope that that’s my legacy,” Barker said.

Her students will maintain a one-to-one technology device if the school district sends them home or has to pivot out of health concerns. Outside her classroom is a menu of no-contact greetings the kids will get to choose from, including thumbs-up, air hug, blow a kiss.

Signs around the classroom indicate the health precautions students and staff will have to continue, such as sanitizing and physical distancing.

Lanyards with mask clips are available, so students don’t lose their masks when they take them off to eat lunch or go to recess.

Come what may, Barker says she is more than ready to greet students in person.

“We’re just gonna take it a day at a time, and every day is a new day. That’s kind of always been my motto,” Barker said.