WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Some school leaders say they are ready for kids in the classroom.
“It’s a lot of change, but we have been preparing for this,” said South High principal Cara Ledy. “We have the hallway lanes for kids and will tell them to keep it moving.”
A big red stripe is in the middle of the hallways. Kind of like driving a car, the kids will have to obey the traffic laws of walking in school. Some places also have a middle “passing lane” for wheelchair use.
Even with preparations underway, United Teachers of Wichita President Kimberly Howard says now may not be the best time for a return to classroom learning.
“So, there are a lot of factors here. We are close, very close,” said Howard. “Just not quite yet.”
Howard says there are concerns some teachers are wanting vaccine shots first. That is not happening yet. And, Howard says there have been a lot of quarantined teachers and that has put a strain on sub teachers.
“I would anticipate issue with the substitute teachers,” said Howard.
Ledy says some teachers who have a medical license have been able to access vaccinations. Still, the school population, in general, will have no vaccination right now. They will all be required to wear that mask and social distance.
“At first, I had to keep reminding kids, wear the mask, wear the mask, for like the first week or so,” said Tara Rodgers. “But it’s not a problem. Kids know what is happening here.”
Rodgers teaches history and is in the AVID program at South High.
“Right now, I would say the hardest part about distance learning is the distance,” said Rodgers. “The hardest part really is trying to build those relationships with kids. You can know what kids are capable of when they are here and you see them.”
Rodgers says building relationships with kids can make all the difference, and she says that is easier to do in the classroom.
“Right now, I have three screens for remote,” said Rodgers. “Put the chat in here for them to see and actually engage with them.”
In the classroom or remote, Rodgers and Ledy both say they work hard at making connections.
“Well, making connections is what it’s all about,” said Ledy. “But we know when kids come back there will be challenges, and we are meeting those.”
South High School will have walking lanes that are one way. They have a lane down the middle of the hallways for wheelchairs. The school has distanced tables for lunch and will use spaces like auditoriums for even more space.
“When kids do come back, we are really close on this today, we will be ready,” said Ledy.