Rockford teachers prepare for another year of COVID-19 safety precautions

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Last year, educators received a lesson on teaching during a global health pandemic. Now, as the first day of class looms, instructors are preparing to do it all over again.

Second Grade teacher, Heidi Ritter, says she is in the process of setting up her classroom for the 2021 school year.

Although Ritter has years of experience, last year was her first for Keith Country Day School, at 1 Jacoby Pl.

“I felt like a first year teacher all over again. It was a whole different style of teaching. We had kids online, we had kids in the classroom, so it was like you were teaching year one all over again,” she said.

Schools nationwide and in Illinois closed schools and opted for remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Toward the end of the school year, students were permitted back in class using social distancing and masks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at first recommended a distance of 6 feet to prevent transmission of the coronavirus, but later amended that guidance to 3 feet.

“I’m trying to keep things pretty much the same as I did last year. I’m trying to keep lost of space in between my kids desks, so I’m just preparing for an identical year to last year,” she said.

As with last year, Keith Country Day School says it will use an outdoor tent to help keep students spaced apart.

“We did great last year we didn’t have any outbreaks,” said school co-head, Ashleigh Van Thiel. “We were able to keep everybody healthy and safe and we’re hoping with our small community we can continue to do that.”

Safety will continue to be the school’s priority, with one minor change from last year.

“So, now, we’re able to gather in larger groups, however we will absolutely make sure that everybody has a mask and are socially distanced,” Thiel said

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker issued an order on Thursday that requires all students and staff of K-12 schools statewide to wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status, in an effort to slow the spread of the virus’ delta variant.

Ritter says she’s excited and feels prepared to kick off the new school year.

“This past year, I think it’s taught all of us, is that things can change. Just the very nice day and life can look different the next day and I’m ready to make those changes and pivot throughout the year, as needed,” she said.

Keith Country Day School resumes class on August 16th.

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