BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – Hundreds of the youngest students in Boulder County will soon return to in-person learning through the Boulder Valley School District. The district announced all students enrolled in kindergarten through second grade would be welcomed back to in-person classes starting Sept. 29.
Students across all grades with special needs will also be welcomed back to classes as well. All remaining students will also be given the opportunity for in-person learning so long as the classes are conducted outdoors.
While some teachers have expressed concerns with a return to the classroom, first grade teacher Jessica Asher told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas she felt the district was making the right move by slowly reopening the school buildings to students.
“The first day of school was probably my hardest day in all of my years,” Asher said. “It feels really lonely.”
Asher said the start of the 2020-2021 school year was the most challenging she has encountered in more than 12 years of teaching. She said, though many young students can be a handful to educate at one time, she misses the craziness of her classroom. She said she will never take it for granted again, and looks forward to having kids return.
“I have been praying for (a return) since before school started. I was screaming, and I was dancing, and I was jumping,” Asher said. “I’m such a people person, and I am energized by those sweet peas.”
Asher said online learning came with both a learning curve, and stress. She said she was one of several teachers who were mentally exhausted trying to navigate the new education system.
BVSD has implemented a set of standards when it comes to maintaining a safe environment for students. While it may be impossible to keep COVID-19 coronavirus completely out of the schools, Asher said she felt proper steps were taken to sanitize the buildings and promote social distancing.
“Everybody can have a space in the room, but still be in their own space,” Asher said. “(Students can) build friendships, build social (and) emotional skills, and then they can do the learning.”
Schools are cleaned regularly, and distancing is encouraged with stickers placed on the floors to educate children on where they should space out. Masks will also be required.
Asher said many of the young students will follow the examples set by the teachers and their peers and will likely wear their masks during classes without issue.
“In person learning is definitely the best way for us to be able to teach our students,” said Randy Barber, Chief Communications Officer for BVSD. “All students will have the opportunity to come back to outdoor learning.”
Barber said the school district hopes to reconvene and discuss the return of more grades during a meeting on Sept. 22.
He said the district was also making sure to evaluate any potential concerns by teachers, while weighing the impact that may have on the education process. From there the district will move forward with what they deem proper for all parties involved.