‘We’re just ready': Roanoke County teachers prepare to welcome students back to school with big changes

School starts for Roanoke County students on Aug. 24

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – Roanoke County teachers are hard at work preparing for a school year like they’ve never seen before.

“If they do take a classroom book, when they’re done with it, I can’t just put it back,” said Lauren Peters, a 5th grade teacher at Fort Lewis Elementary School.

“I mean they basically can’t get out of their seats,” said Deede Clifford, a 2nd grade teacher at Fort Lewis Elementary School.

Teachers are being forced to get creative to meet new guidelines. That includes spacing desks six feet apart, ensuring no shared supplies, limiting class sizes and even developing a system using magnets to track bathrooms that need to be cleaned after use.

Roanoke County will operate under a hybrid model. Students in preschool through second grade will attend school in person five days a week. Students in third through 12th grade will attend school in person two days and do online learning for three days. Students also have the option of doing all virtual learning.

The school board and health department still say they’re comfortable with the plan, citing a lower number of coronavirus cases in the county.

Students will go through health screenings, wear face masks and stay at the same desk all day, even for lunch. They will only leave for P.E., recess or the bathroom. The library and cafeteria have been converted to classrooms. In the hallway, students will stand on paw prints spaced six feet apart.

Teachers said they’re adapting to the changes and they’re confident students will too.

“It’s going to be a challenge figuring out the flow of things and scheduling but I think once we do it, it’s really going to be great,” Peters said.

“We are excited to have them back and I think with the precautions and everything we’re taking, they’ll be safe and we’re just ready so hopefully they are too,” Clifford said.

School starts for Roanoke County students on Aug. 24.

Click here to learn more about Roanoke County’s reopening plans.

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