Anacortes High School is opening its doors to students again next week, something that interim Principal Kecia Fox said is already reenergizing teachers and staff.
“It just brings us joy to see the students in person,” she said. “It makes us remember why we are doing this work and gives us energy.”
The high school students will be the last students to start back up with in-person education after everything shut down in March 2020.
Elementary students returned Jan. 11 and those at Anacortes Middle School followed Feb. 8. The only students who will not be visiting a classroom in person at least two days a week are those in the ASD@Home program, which is a fully remote option for families. Those students will stay in a remote setting until the end of the school year.
Staff members at AHS have been busy planning and laying out safety protocols for the students’ return, Fox said.
All the classrooms will be set up in ways to make sure students can stay socially distant while learning, she said. That includes utilizing flex space and keep class sizes small by splitting students into two groups.
There is another element, though, Fox said. Staff wants students to be safe, but they want to also keep some of the fun elements of school available.
Some students have anxiety about coming back, but staff wants them to feel safe and to enjoy themselves, Fox said.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve been in school,” she said.
Teachers have had to rework and rework and rework their teaching styles to fit with remote learning, so now they have to figure out how to teach in person again.
“They are remembering what it’s like to have that feeling of building positive relationships with kids,” Fox said.
Coming back to school brings challenges but it also brings a good level of social-emotional health for the students and also the staff and teachers, Fox said.
At the high school, all students will attend full days of classes two days a week. That means they will be taking their core classes, as well as art, physical education and career classes in person.Students studying hands-on learning are especially excited to get back, Fox said.
Students haven’t been able to use the metal shop equipment since last March, for example, Fox said. Teachers have been creative and have sent home materials, but it’s not the same.