Gilbert Elementary prepares to reopen with new learning environment amidst pandemic

Gilbert Elementary prepares to reopen with new learning environment amidst pandemic

LEXINGTON, S.C. (WIS) - School districts statewide continue to prepare for school reopenings and what that will look like and mean for them A Lexington One school is juggling expansion, renovations, and reopening during a pandemic.

This August, Gilbert Primary transforms into Gilbert Elementary. The school once served only pre-kindergarten through grade two students. Now, construction outside the school walls creates the infrastructure needed to expand to instruct students up to grade five.

“Moving through our construction timeline, and we’re making good improvements for our students,” said school principal William Moody. “It’s all worth it.”

Gilbert Elementary handles the hurdles to provide quality education safely. Moody expresses excitement over the school changes. The school embraces facility upgrades, like new playground areas for older students, to a new curriculum and staff to teach it.

“All of those things are for children, and that’s what we are here for, to do what’s right for kids,” said Moody.

He understands the operational differences in place to mitigate the risk of exposure to COVID-19 within the school walls.

“Thinking through all those systems and structures through that lens of COVID-19 related public safety guidelines,” added Moody. “And make sure we tweak those processes or change them altogether.”

Tending to students and staff needs remains a top priority as Gilbert Elementary transitions back to school amid a pandemic.

“As a leader, you need to listen to those that are following,” said Moody. “You need to be affirming and supportive of what their concerns are. Provide them with the best answers we have at this time.”

This also includes teaching young children safety protocols, such as wearing a mask and social distancing.

“How do we line up to transition out of the classroom,” mentioned Moody. “What do we do during a structured hand washing break? Many of my friends who do not work with young children think it’s a mystery how we get kids to comply with procedures. When caring adults invest time, children will generally comply.”

Moody has paid attention to what’s happening in other states. Just south, Georgia’s largest school district had 260 employees, either test positive or have been exposed to COVID-19.

He emphasizes the number one goal is to do what’s best for children and staff.

“If a situation arises where we have to make a significant change, or we need to transition to a virtual approach, we’re ready to do that,” said Moody.

He says it’s not a matter of surviving the new learning environment, it’s about thriving in it. And, he knows his school will meet children where they are to flourish this academic year.

Gilbert Elementary begins school on August 31st. They’ll open under a hybrid model. Some students will remain all virtual. Others will start with face-to-face instruction two days a week, with no more than 12 students to a class.

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