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Rapides Parish Elementary teachers prepare for upcoming school year, excited to see students

Teachers at J.I. Barron say they're looking forward to seeing students in person this school year
Published: Jul. 30, 2020 at 5:59 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Rapides Parish students head back to class on Monday, August 10. In an exclusive interview, KALB sat down with some elementary teachers to find out what exactly classrooms will look like and how teachers are preparing.

It’s officially back to school season. For the almost 1,000 enrolled students at J.I. Barron Elementary in Pineville, they will all be back in the classroom come August.

“On that first day, J.I. Barron will probably be the biggest campus here in Rapides Parish because we have all the kids coming,” said J.I. Barron Principal Richard Dewees.

Students at the elementary school had the choice to enroll in either all virtual instruction or come back to class as normal. However, things will certainly look different.

“I’m just anxious to get back into the classroom to be honest with you,” said Fourth Grade Teacher Hannah Colarines.

Colarines tells KALB there will be 24 students allowed in each classroom with one assigned teacher. To fit each student, she’s spacing out desks and getting creative.

“If we go to a more flexible seating where they’re on the floor, I can space them out so they can still be comfortable,” said Colarines.

Fifth Grade Teacher Hope Cole is using every inch of her classroom to make sure each child fits comfortably.

“I have some foam tiles for them. I’m going to give them some clipboards to write on and they’ll have a basket to keep all of their materials in, because if they’re sitting in a specific spot on the floor, they can stretch out more,” said Cole.

Cole says forming a routine early on will be crucial for student success.

“Getting them back in their routines and getting them comfortable and happy to be back in school, it’s going to make our lives so much easier and theirs too,” said Cole.

Especially after a challenging end to the school year back in March.

“They actually wrote the date March 16th, 2020, because that was the day that they were supposed to return after the weekend,” said Sixth Grade Teacher Ashley Miles.

“We kind of really just want to end the year the way that it was supposed to but we had to do what we had to do to keep everybody safe,” said Colarines.

With the ongoing pandemic, the teachers say safety will continue to be their number one priority.

“We’re going to take care, we call them our babies all the time. We’re going to take care of them just as we would our own children,” said Colarines.

“We consider your kids our kids when they come to school. So if I’m going to do it for my own kid, I’m certainly going to make sure to do it for yours too,” said Cole.

Along with giving students the best education possible.

“Like a race car driver wants to drive that car down the speed track or a heart surgeon wants to do surgery, our teachers want to teach kids in front of them,” said Dewees.

Masks will be required for students third grade and up and everyone will get their temperature checked before entering the school.

At J.I. Barron, students will remain in the same classroom all day long and teachers will rotate in-between class periods. Those teachers will be encouraged to remain stationary while instructing students.

Copyright 2020 KALB. All rights reserved.

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