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'I’m excited': Spokane Public Schools brings kindergarteners back to classrooms Wednesday

When Kristen Rabold’s kindergarten class at Sheridan Elementary arrives on Wednesday, things will be different than in past years.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane Public Schools is welcoming its kindergarten students into the classroom Wednesday.

They will return on an “A/B” schedule, meaning some students will start Wednesday and some will return on Thursday. All kindergarteners will return to class on Oct. 19.

When Kristen Rabold’s kindergarten class at Sheridan Elementary arrives Wednesday, things will be different than in past years.

 “I’m excited!" Rabold said. "I’m excited to see the kids, but I know it is going to be very different."

First, Spokane Public Schools is asking kindergarten parents to fill out its daily health check form online before taking their child to school.

Masks are required at school. Student will need to wear them on the bus or once parents drop them off.  

When asked about strategies teachers will use to educate students about wearing masks, Rabold said its become pretty normal for most of these young learners. 

"Most of them have had practice," Rabold said. "Just with anything, modeling is going to be our best, best strategy when they see their teacher wearing it appropriately.” 

As for social distancing, custodians marked all classroom floors where desks would be six feet apart. 

Instead of traditional desks, Rabold said Sheridan kindergarten teachers are using yoga mats and lap desks.  

Vinyl dots are also in the hallways marking six feet apart.

“Another idea we've had is like a rope for them to hold as we're moving through the building with handles, six feet apart," Rabold said. "Kindergarteners are not the greatest at walking in line at the beginning of the year, so to keep them spaced out and just a visual reminder of 'OK, I need to keep this much distance'.” 

Students will get mask breaks when they eat at lunch, at designated spaces during recess and throughout the day when needed.  

“If we see a bunch of them grabbing at their masks or having a hard time keeping them on that would be our cue to take another break outside,” Rabold said. 

Lunches will only be delivered to each classroom.  

During recess, Sheridan’s three kindergarten classes will be separated into three areas outside and rotate at each break. 

"It's not a set thing for each school, but at our school, my class will be on the big toy in the morning, they will be on the blacktop during lunch and recess and then in the grass in the afternoon," Rabold said. "So each day, they'll get a chance to be in all three areas."

She said there are two things parents should know.

"Number one is that no matter what the school year looks like, teachers' first job is to keep those kids safe," Rabold said. "And we're going to do the same thing this year. That is our ultimate goal is to keep each of their children safe."

"And then the other thing is that this is all going to be a learning process so we're, we're trying to think through everything that we can right now," she continued. "So I would say just patience and understanding that this is new for all of us."