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SFSD teachers create socially distant classrooms

Although it's still summer, many teachers have been putting a lot of hours and work into the layout of their classrooms.
Published: Jul. 29, 2020 at 9:12 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Classrooms may look a little different this year due to the pandemic. Teachers at schools like John Harris Elementary in Sioux Falls are already working on arranging their classrooms in a way that focuses on social distancing. Some are even getting creative to ensure not only a safe but fun learning environment this school year.

“In our community, we have examples all over of organizations that have figured out how to do this and now it’s our turn as a school district,” said SFSD Superintendent Jane Staven.

Supt. Stavem says safety is the school district’s top priority in sending kids back to school.

“We have big dots in certain places so kids know right where to sit if they are younger students. I’m sure we’ll see the same things we do in our stores where we have some arrows and just things that make those protocols clear as you come into our schools,” said Supt. Stavem.

Supt. Stavem says classes may look different depending on the teacher. Some will turn desks toward the front of the classroom and space them apart, as recommended by the CDC.

Example of what classrooms will look like at John Harris Elementary School for fall of 2020.
Example of what classrooms will look like at John Harris Elementary School for fall of 2020.(KSFY)

Oher teachers are getting creative like Fifth Grade Teacher Jessica Peterson.

“Well in my class, I haven’t had desks in about 15 years,” said Peterson.

So she got innovative with the furniture she does have. Her tables are spread out across her classroom and can seat two to four kids.

“I worked with my husband to design some dividers. You know stores have the plexiglass up to separate customers from the workers, so I was thinking I could do the same thing in my classroom,” said Peterson.

Teachers at schools like John Harris Elementary in Sioux Falls are already working on arranging their classrooms in a way that focuses on social distancing.
Teachers at schools like John Harris Elementary in Sioux Falls are already working on arranging their classrooms in a way that focuses on social distancing.(KSFY)

She also removed any items not good for social distancing or that took up a lot of space like couches.

“I use to teach on the floor up front, that won’t be an option anymore. So a lot of my floor spots, the pillows and the cushions that they sat on have also been taken home for the year,” said Peterson.

Each student in Peterson’s class will be given a dot that will be used as their personal whiteboard to help spread fewer germs.

Teachers at schools like John Harris Elementary in Sioux Falls are already working on arranging their classrooms in a way that focuses on social distancing.
Teachers at schools like John Harris Elementary in Sioux Falls are already working on arranging their classrooms in a way that focuses on social distancing.(KSFY)

Peterson says it's been a lot of work, but it's worth it.

“I’m doing whatever I can to keep my students safe this year, so that they have a place, a space that they can sit at and learn, but they know they are protected,” said Peterson.

Superintendent Stavem says the Sioux Falls School District has received a lot of community support in the form of donated items that are helping teachers out.

Anyone who would like to donate supplies can call the district’s main office at 605-367-7900.

Copyright 2020 Dakota News Now. All rights reserved.

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