For the first time since March 11, Wilton students return to in-person schooling today–well, half of Wilton’s students actually will be sitting in classrooms. They’ll be part of the first of two cohorts the district has divided into in order to cut classroom occupancy in half and allow for six feet of social distance between individuals.
What other changes will students find in the schools? The district has made significant alterations to just about everything in the buildings, from installing directional signs to building plexiglass partitions–all in an effort to hopefully prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Middlebrook Acting Principal Jory Higgins welcomed GOOD Morning Wilton into the school last week to show us just what students will see on their return to the buildings. For the most part, the changes are similar across the district, with some slight tweaks depending on the age group and grades.
Right from the front door, they’ll see all traffic is divided into two ‘lanes,’ with one side for entering the building and one side for exiting. Markers on the ground will help remind students to keep six feet of distance.
Age-appropriate signs will provide reminders about ways to limit transmitting the virus. Students will be asked to sanitize when they enter school each morning, with hand sanitizing stations located right where they walk in.
Staircases will have signage to remind kids to stay in their one way.
Signage appears in a variety of places with similar messaging about how to stay safe.
Additional directional signage in used in hallways, on the floor…
…and up above.
There are a variety of creative ways that the faculty have come up with to remind the students about what six feet looks like.
In classrooms, there are multiple mitigations strategies employed. In classrooms where seating is at tables, there are sneeze guards and plexiglass barriers installed. Desks are placed six feet apart.
Sneeze guards have been put on front-row desks as an added protection for teachers at the front of the classroom.
Teachers are labeling desks for students in the different cohorts who attend on different days.
In one classroom, the teacher mounted a camera to provide a view for remote students.
The classrooms are also the spaces used by teachers to meet, discuss, prepare lessons, and more. Here the team from Middlebrook’s 6 Red ate lunch and reviewed their plans for when students return.
In most cases, teachers will have a three-screen set-up: the SMARTboard for teaching, their laptop, and a third screen showing the faces of remote students logging in.
Different classrooms and teachers have different needs. For instance, instrumental instruction has been moved into the cafeteria, a much larger space than the band room and which allows the recommended 12-foot distance between students who are playing instruments.
The cafeteria will no longer serve as a place to eat for Middlebrook students, who will be eating in their classrooms.
The string hanging from the ceiling is a more permanent visual marker for where stands are positioned, rather than tape on the floor which would get buffed away with repeated cleaning and sanitizing.
Bathrooms have been changed too, limiting the occupancy numbers for how many people can use a bathroom at the same time.
How will kids know how many people are inside? The teachers in Middlebrook’s Red classrooms have come up with a system of magnets that each person will use to indicate how many people are inside, so students can see if they have to wait until there’s room.
Distance markers are used in the bathroom too.
Water fountains have been turned off, but students will still be able to use bottle filling stations.
In Middlebrook’s LLC, teachers have come up with a way to clearly show what areas are clean–and which need to be sanitized before anyone can use them.
In Middlebrook’s main office, more permanent plexiglass dividers have been installed, and tables have been placed in front to maintain distance. There are also 300 hand sanitizing devices that have been installed throughout the district.