Back to School: Joy Elementary in Fairbanks finds new normal with in-person students

Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 4:54 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - It’s been 3 months since schools reopened to in-person education in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. Due to COVID, some changes have been made to create a safer learning environment for students.

Since reopening in January, Joy Elementary school has modified its class schedule to minimize contact between different classes of students.

Christina Compton, 6th grade teacher at Joy Elementary explained how the new day to day operations at the school have changed. “So there’s been a lot of changes for us. Something that we were able to carry over from before is that we do all of our instruction first thing in the morning. We’re not doing math and then reading and then science at different times of the day. It just happens first thing in the morning so we can accommodate our remote students.”

A Joy Elementary goal is maintaining a sense of community engagement among the students while maintaining social distancing procedures. Compton explained, “So we keep all of our student grade levels and classes together, we still keep them socially distanced, and we keep our time track of how long they’ve been together in those groups so we can contact trace if need be.”

Whenever students exit a classroom they sign a sheet detailing exactly where they’re going, and how long they’ll be there. Same with entering a classroom - they’ll sign in with where they’ve been. This record keeping allows Joy Elementary to accurately contact-trace students and staff.

“So if the whole class had to quarantine because there was a positive case, [and] if a student was absent that day [and] they were not in contact with that child, they could still remain in the classroom which is what we’d like to make happen,” said Compton.

According to Compton the students at Joy Elementary have adapted well to the changes in the structure of the school day. “It was challenging to them at first, but kids are so resilient, they adapt so much better than we think they’re going to. There’s been a lot of adjustments, but whenever we switch something around they’ve just done a really good job adjusting to it.”

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