by Terry Rogers
Delmarva Christian School opened for their first day of classes on August 19 with students attending in person for half days during the first week. Susan Gum, Director of Marketing, stated that the first few days were to get acquainted with new students and help them navigate through the student management system, RenWeb.
“We also assisted them with technology by downloading apps on their iPads and setting up the emails, passwords and Google classroom accounts,” Gum said. “We also organized a team building activity that provided the students with an opportunity to meet all the other students. The activity was a life-sized Foosball game in which we painted a grid on one of our fields so that the students could social distance themselves from one another but still have fun. The day went well. The students honored social distancing and face covering protocols.”
A tradition at the school, the second day began with a Chapel service viewed in the classroom where they were socially distanced. Gum explained that the students appeard to be engaged and grateful for the words of encouragement. Once the chapel service ended, students were introduced to the new safety protocols, walked through their schedules, met teachers and received syllabi. Classes were short due to the half-day schedule.
“I felt the first few days went very well, considering the numerous changes to normal daily school life,” Mary Beth Rimmer, Dean of Students, said. “Students and their families were very accommodating and accepting of the restrictions placed and there was an overall sense of calm and unity.”
Administrative Assistant Pip Craig felt that students were happy to be back in school and that they are willing to comply with and respect the changes made based on CDC guidelines. Parents have also been very supportive and encouraging, Craig stated.
High school students started full day classes on August 24. The Milton campus, which houses Pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade opened Wednesday, August 26 with half-day classes and they will transition to full-day classes the following week The school continues to follow all CDC guidelines and COVID-19 research, adjusting on a weekly basis if necessary.
“We have developed arrival and departure plans to ensure social distancing by identifying specific doors for entering and departing the building,” Gum said. “Students who arrive early to school or require staying after for a ride are to sit in designated bleachers that have been marked at six-foot intervals from one another. All other students are to leave campus immediately after school and are not allowed to remain in parking lots. Parents must provide temperature checks daily before a student is able to enter the building. Transition times between classes have been staggered so the hallways aren’t crowded and students can remain at a distance.”
Gum also explained that younger students will not transition from their classrooms during the day. Instead, special classes like music and art will be brought to the student. All desks are six feet apart and all face the front of the classroom. Sanitation stations are positioned throughout the school and in classrooms as well. Desks and equipment are sanitized throughout the day. Videos created by the Head of School are shared that appeal to students to continue working as a family to keep everyone healthy and safe. The school has also created outdoor areas that allow students mask-less time. They have installed 20 tents and picnic tables built by a former student as an Eagle Scout project. When weather does not permit, teachers are asked to open windows.
“It is nice to see friends and socialize,” Kintyre Cooper, an 11th grader, said. Jason Handy, a new 11th grade student at the school, commented that everyone was nice and welcoming. He admitted the masks are terrible, but he is happy to be in this new environment and meet new people.
Loubins Fleurima, 11th grade, Katie Thompson, 9th grade, Jesslyn Duman, 9th grade and Mollie Skipper, also 9th grade, all say they are happy to be back in a classroom as they did not learn well online.
“I literally learned nothing online, could not comprehend,” Skipper, who is new to the school, said. “My friends aren’t doing much at all so I’m glad to be able to go to school” Several students commented that they missed the social interaction among their fellow students, while Briana Reigle-Fabber, 11th grade, admitted she was concerned initially since she lived with two high-risk people, but that it was “getting better each day.”
Gum stated that there were some parents who chose to homeschool their students for the beginning of the year, but many have asked that the school keep a spot open for them once they feel it is safe to return to class.