While the start of school has been filled with challenges, Creekview Elementary has started off in a familiar fashion; kids are being assessed and education is continuing.
“Really, other than these things, things have been just about normal,” said principal Keith Palmer as he pointed to the mask he was wearing in his office the day he was interviewed. “These masks are not really an issue at all. The students don’t seem to complain about them and while we obviously are having to do some things differently, everything is moving along nicely.”
Adaptations in sanitation in the school, how the students group together in the lunchroom and other things have changed some of the traditional routine. Students no longer hand cards to the clerk in the lunchroom to get their food and all the kids face one direction at lunch tables so they are limited in contact with each other.
“The students have seemed to adapt to that well,” he said. “The hand sanitizing takes more time in the classroom and lunchroom and so do some other issues, so we are trying to work through things. However, we also found that we are not taking so much time on other activities such as when students have tasks to do they are not sharing materials, but each has all the things they need right at their own desks. Each student has their own crayons, markers and other things right in place. I don’t think that any of the new procedures are affecting instruction in the classroom at all.”
He said teachers are using the sound systems in their classrooms more that they previously did to be sure that they are heard through the masks and face shields, so it has been helpful that those systems were installed in the last few years.
Enrollment at the school is unofficially at 429, which is a little smaller than last year because the fifth grade last year was a large class. That enrollment number includes 35 students that are taking virtual instruction at home.
“There is all kinds of rationale for why students are at home learning instead of being here,” said Palmer. “There are many reasons people are doing this, so it isn’t all about one thing or another. What those are is completely a parent’s prerogative and we respect all their grounds for doing so. We hope that someday those students will all return to school here.”
One of the other big changes this year is the move to a new logo and mascot for the school. There are Coyote track stickers throughout the school reminding kids about good behavior and proper etiquette. There is also a painting that has been done that illustrates a Coyote with Pinnacle Peak in the background that will be soon be hung in the school library. That painting illustrates the new mascot and also has visuals that relates to the retired one as well.
Unfortunately, the new restrictions on distance and cleanliness have altered many plans for activities, such as assemblies and events for at least part of this year.
“It’s very difficult to know what to put on the calendar for the school year,” he said. “We have been cautioned to not do anything extra up through December. We have also chosen to not do big events until we feel comfortable with how things work and what we are facing.”