Rockford teachers prepare for another year of COVID-19 safety precautions

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) – Last year, educators received a lesson in teaching during a global health pandemic. Now, as the first day of class approaches, the instructors are getting ready to start all over again.

Second-grade teacher Heidi Ritter says she is in the process of setting up her classroom for the 2021 school year.

Although Ritter has years of experience, last year was his first for Keith Country Day School, at 1 Jacoby Pl.

“I felt like a first grade teacher again. It was a whole different style of teaching. We had kids online, we had kids in the classroom, so it was like you were teaching grade one again, ”she said.

Schools nationwide and in Illinois have closed schools and switched to distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Towards the end of the school year, students were allowed to return to class using social distancing and masks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initially recommended a distance of 6 feet to prevent transmission of the coronavirus, but then changed this guideline to 3 feet.

“I try to keep it pretty much like I did last year. I try to keep wasted space between my children’s desks, so I’m just preparing for a year the same as last year, ”she said.

Like last year, Keith Country Day School says she will use an outdoor tent to help keep students apart.

“We did very well last year, we had no outbreaks,” said school co-principal Ashleigh Van Thiel. “We were able to keep everyone safe and healthy and we hope that with our small community we can continue to do so.”

Safety will continue to be the school’s priority, with one minor change from last year.

“So now we can come together in bigger groups, but we will absolutely make sure everyone has a mask and is socially distanced,” Thiel said.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker issued an order on Thursday requiring all students and staff at K-12 schools statewide to wear masks indoors, regardless of their immunization status, in an effort to slow the spread of the delta variant of the virus.

Ritter says she’s excited and feels ready to kick off the new school year.

“Last year, I think it taught us all, is that things can change. The great day and life may be different the next day and I’m ready to make those changes and rotate throughout the year as needed, ”she said.

Keith Country Day School resumes classes on August 16.

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Susan W. Lloyd