Fort Mill teachers decorate classrooms to make COVID-19 safety measures less scary

S.C. teachers preparing classrooms for students

FORT MILL, N.C. (WBTV) -For those students who have not already stepped foot into the classroom, changes are coming.

The coronavirus started new safety protocols much differently than any other year.

Those first-day nerves will go beyond just what is my teacher like and who will I be sitting next to?

Students will walk into a very different classroom than they left in March.

Students should expect to see several new coronavirus protocols. In class, desks are about six to eight feet apart.

Plexiglass is around tables where the desk cannot be six feet. Students will wear masks inside the class.

These are all new safety measures the coronavirus influenced inside schools.

So, teachers are taking some initiative to make students more comfortable.

Two teachers at Orchard Park Elementary in Fort Mill, Eve Dowling and Shannon Pruitt, completely decorated their classes incorporating the socially distanced tables and plexiglass.

It is an effort to make sure their students, who spend hours in their classrooms, feel more at ease in an already strange setting. COVID safety sparked some extra creativity.

”When students can sit around it they don’t really feel like they’re so isolated and they don’t really feel like they’re in this weird alternative classroom,” said Dowling, a 4th-grade teacher. “I want that to be safe but I want it to be a comfortable place.”

Dowling said that instead of being face-to-face with plexiglass, students will feel transported to a tree-filled picnic table.

”If you take the time to make sure things are colorful and their fun, it just takes away the norm being all of the safety precautions,” Dowling said.

Students already have many worries—making the grades, understanding the material, the list goes on.

Dowling said she has heard it all, so safety measures are one less thing they will have their minds on.

It is especially important for learning their lessons.

Dowling knows the plexiglass and masks will be a distraction for her students. She wants to ease them into their new norm without them feeling overwhelmed.

”I want to work really hard to take away those stresses, so they can concentrate really hard on the things they need to be thinking about,” said Dowling.

It is the same thought process Shannon Pruitt has with her special education students.

Her classroom is decked out as a haven to take their minds off the coronavirus protocols happening right outside the door.

While there will be hand washing and safety inside her classroom, the students can feel safer figuring those out in her classroom.

”Coming to school is hard for every kid but it’s extra hard for the kids coming into the special education classroom,” said Pruitt. “So, having them feel safe and secure when they walk in will help them do their best and be their best in school which is the number one thing.”

So those first day nerves can be dedicated to meeting their new classmates and teachers instead of feeling overwhelmed by wearing a mask.

“Having them worry as little as possible about those new safety things will help their day go a lot smoother,” said Pruitt.

”The more normal you can make your room look, the more they can concentrate on what they should have been feeling nervous about,” said Dowling.

Some of those other safety protocols, not to mention, are staying in their classrooms all day, not congregating in large groups and walking down the hallways on one side.

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