Marble Falls Independent School District teachers have advice for parents and students returning to in-person learning Wednesday, Aug. 19: Don’t be afraid and have a positive attitude.
“Be willing to embrace the change,” said Marble Falls Middle School algebra teacher Shannon Gage of the new regulations in place to help stop the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. “You will have to walk a certain direction in the hallways, and you may not get to sit with your friends at lunch, but be thankful we can be face to face and are not forced to learn remotely. We all have concessions we have to make, but we can work together doing it.”
As teachers prepare lesson plans for both in-person and remote learning students, they also must train for long-term mask wearing and introducing new classroom routines such as hand washing and not sharing. Yes, sharing is no longer caring, at least for the time being.
Preparing classrooms for this school year involved moving desks apart, setting up plexiglass shields in common work areas, and putting marks on the floors to help kids with social distancing. Teachers also plan to go paperless as much as possible.
Students, meanwhile, will have to develop a whole new set of health and safety habits.
Pam Pond’s advice is to use common sense precautions.
“Bring your own personal hand sanitizers, have your own pencils and pens and supplies — don’t borrow from my desk,” said the Marble Falls High School tenth-grade English teacher. “Wash your hands periodically and maybe bring your own sack lunch. And when you get home, wash your hands again. It’s all about teaching yourself new habits.”
Marble Falls Elementary School third-grade teacher Deborah Ruebush worries about the kindergartners and first-graders who are nervous about the first day of school, whether or not a pandemic has changed protocols. They are just scared, period, and this year, parents will not be allowed to walk them to their classrooms.
“That’s going to be hard for the parents, too,” she said. “It’s just really hard to gauge how they are going to be feeling when they walk into school and everybody is going to be wearing a mask.”
To help those younger kids who might not warm to a teacher whose facial expressions they can’t easily discern, the district has ordered clear face masks, which are a cross between a shield and a mask. Everyone will be able to see first-day welcoming smiles on their teachers’ faces.
The best advice as both parents and students prepare for a school year of unknowns is to communicate with each other in a positive manner.
“Talk to your children,” Ruebush said. “Tell your kids the same things they are going to be hearing at school, that the reason we are doing this is to keep everyone safe. If the message is the same in both places, it will be much easier for the kids.”
For her own students, Ruebush said not to be afraid.
“Don’t worry that you are coming into third grade even though you missed the last nine weeks of last year,” she said. “We are going to catch everybody up and have fun doing it.”
That goes for every grade, these teachers said.
“None of us have ever been through anything like this,” Ruebush continued. “Even though they may be scared or worried, the teachers are going to do the best they can and the district is going to be there to support us. We are going to do this and be safe with it at the same time.”
For more on a new academic year amid a pandemic, visit the DailyTrib.com School Information page.