School year off to a good start at Watson Elementary

Masks, distanced learning and cleaning measures all contributing to success
Published: Aug. 27, 2020 at 8:25 AM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - The Hastings Public School District has been in class for just over a week and so far, so good.

“The kids and the teachers have done an excellent job coming in, being prepared for the changes, the masks and some of the little changes we’ve had to make, but we’ve been really happy with those things have started,” Jason Cafferty, the Principal at Watson Elementary in Hastings, said.

Before entering the building each day students must line up and have their temperatures taken and, once in the building, masks are required for both staff and students. On top of that, desks are arranged in rows rather than pairs or pods, most everything is numbered in each classroom so students aren’t sharing items as often and chairs and desks are wiped down after each class.

“The things we do in our classroom can be a little bit different just because of wanting to be really safe and sanitary while we’re in here but a lot of the things we’ve done we’ve just adapted,” Jami Paulman, a 2nd grade teacher, said.

In Mrs. Paulman’s classroom mask breaks typically happen once mid-morning and again mid-afternoon but she said that can change dependent on the lesson plan for the day or by gauging students’ feelings throughout the day.

Mrs. Paulman says it’s difficult not seeing students be able to interact how they normally would and get that group work and collaborative experience, but that that’s a small sacrifice to make to be together in the classroom.

Classes at Watson are also spending more time outside, which Principal Caffert says has helped with social distancing. Mrs. Paulman says that aspect has been a welcomed addition although it can be difficult to see how being outside can sometimes fit into the lesson plan.

Principal Cafferty says he has 21 students doing virtual learning to start the year but otherwise everyone is at the school and seems to be doing what they need to be doing for a successful year.

“The kids have handled it really well, I’ve been really happy with all of them,” Cafferty said.

Cafferty credits the success of the year up to this point to everyone involved: parents, staff, administration of HPS, teachers and, of course, students.

Getting the day started takes a little bit longer and maybe teachers show up earlier and leave slightly later to make sure all the proper cleaning is done and steps to prepare for the next day are taken care of, but the consensus among staff members is that the year has begun about as well as it could have.

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