Each morning this week, 25 or more students arrived for supervised Virtual Campus in well-ventilated tents just outside the main entrance to the new Lower/Middle School building. As with any morning in the first weeks of school regardless of location, Lower School students arrived with a mix of emotions. A couple of the youngest Hoppers had difficulty separating from their parents at the curb. A few students who had experienced rough arrivals on Monday practically bounded in ready to go on Tuesday morning.
Staff members John Martinez, Tabitha Marshall, Malik Watkins, and Malik Harvey welcomed them all and helped them settle into their morning routine. By midmorning, every student was seated in their designated tent, fully connected with their class online. Throughout the morning, students could be seen participating in various class activities. As needed, the students asked for help with their devices or for an escort to the bathroom indoors. They took movement breaks in a nearby tent or out on the field.
Before snack and lunch, students washed their hands with soap and water in the pop-up stations beside the tents or one by one in the PK/K classrooms. While they ate, students stored their masks in bags hanging from their desks. Our new director of dining, Alex Buc, was overjoyed to finally have a chance to feed GDS students when he delivered snacks and lunches this week.
In the afternoon, students enjoyed obstacle courses on the field or chalk drawing on the patio. They played soccer and had a surprise visit from the GDS Hopper. On a previous day, John taught young students how to hit a ball, sanitizing the bat between each new player. There were times throughout the day, of course, that students needed some gentle redirection to stay six feet apart. Still, the staff and students seemed comfortable with the routines and appeared to be able to interact quite naturally with each other, particularly during play. Certainly they are all looking forward to being able to use the new playground spaces in the near future!
At departure time, some children were having such a good time together that it was difficult to say goodbye. Supervised Virtual Campus has provided some important learning opportunities not only for the children, but also for staff as we look ahead towards a return to in-person school.