Deer Park schools wrap up first week of in-person and remote learning

DEER PARK, Wash. – Students in the Deer Park School District just finished their first week of school, which was online and in-person.

Nearly 300 students at Deer Park Elementary get to walk the halls again after almost six months of being out of a school building.

However, not all 300 students are at the school at the same time. The school split their students up into two different groups of students – the blue team or gold team. Each team comes to the school on alternate days, switching between three and two days of in-person learning. The rest of the week, they will be learning online. Each classroom has a max of 10 students so it’s not crowded.

Even though they’re back in school, it’s not like what it used to be. You can see that as you walk around the building or even in class.

Because it can be difficult to have young kids social distance, Principal Julia Lockwood came up with an idea. It’s called the “ranger rope.” Ranger is the school’s mascot.

Students hold on to those ropes as they go from one place to another in the school.

“Every student has a number, and they are to stand and hold the same area of the “ranger rope” every time. This way, when we do our cleaning, we know that the rope’s cleaned,” she said, adding that they are cleaned at the end of the day.

Students were also using hula hoops for social distancing, as well.

PE is also not the same anymore. Students are spaced out on blue dots the school drew on the gym floor.

While stretching or exercising inside the gym, students are required to wear masks. But, once they go outside, they can take them off.

Lockwood said they try to have the students outside as much as possible so students have to wear a mask all day.

“The weather is wonderful, so many teachers are taking their students outside as often as they can. We have music outside on many days. Teachers will come in and read a story to their students outside,” Lockwood said. “They’re able to space out so they’re able to take off their masks and have a bit of a break.”

When the weather gets colder, Lockwood said they’ll try and have kids still go outside. However, when it’s not possible, they’ll move to their “rainy day” recess. At this point, students will be indoors doing an activity, but still socially distanced.

As students arrive to school, they get their health checked by the school staff. Teachers will then come out and bring the students to the back playground area outside. Lockwood says this is done so they don’t go through the whole school.

There is also a plan if a student or staff member contracts the virus, and they will work with the health district in figuring out what to do.

Since the start of school Tuesday, Lockwood says it’s been going smoothly.

“I’ve seen so many people smiling and just watching the kids. We knew when they showed up, we would know what to do and it’s been very joyful, not just for the kids, but definitely for us. It feels wonderful,’ she said.

They have about 100 students who are learning completely online right now, but Lockwood says parents are starting to call in, interested in bringing their students back.

“We’re getting more and more students registering every day, which has been wonderful experience, too,” Lockwood said.

For more information on the Deer Park School District’s protocols, click here.

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