Behind the scenes at a Catholic school set to welcome back students

Small Catholic school shows how it's handling students' return
Small Catholic school shows how it's handling students' return

DAVIE, Fla. – Catholic schools in Broward and Miami-Dade counties are preparing for students to return to the physical classroom.

Principal Lisa Kempinski from St. Bonaventure Catholic School in Davie gave Local 10 News a tour of their COVID-19 safety measures.

Hand sanitizers are set up by the door, and sinks are in place for morning hand washing.

Lines mark the teacher and student spaces, and each classroom has two entrances — one for kids, one for teachers.

“We used to have four children at a table, so we had to order more tables so that we could put two per table,” Kempinski said, showing the tables in a first-grade classroom that had dividers.

St. Bonaventure Catholic School has 650 students in grades K-8.

The principal says about 80 percent are coming back to the physical classroom, but logistically they’re ready for everyone.

“Over the summer we created extra classroom spaces, so we split every grade from two classes to three classes so that we could accommodate everyone if they wanted to return,” Kempinski said.

The principal believes that because it’s a smaller school it’s easier to work out the logistics.

And in Catholic schools, principals are given significant autonomy, she says, when it comes to their individual arrangements.

The return will be staggered at St. Bonaventure.

On Wednesday, kindergarten through 2nd Grade goes back. On Sept. 28, it’s Grades 3-5. And on Sept. 30, Grades 6-8.

“When they arrive, instead of having one point of entry we have four of entries,” Assistant Principal Michael Lawlor said. “The children will have their temperatures checked.”

There will be more cleaning, including the use of an electrostatic sprayer.

And even lunch will look different, with meals packaged for individual use.

Teachers here admit that after adjusting to virtual schooling, they’re ready for in-classroom learning.

“It’ll just be wonderful to be in the room with them and to see them responding,” said 4th Grade teacher Sheila Pamplin.

However, In this new COVID-19 world, the students will stay in one room and it will be the teachers who move around.

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