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Council Bluffs teachers prepare for new school year

One new teacher faces an extra challenge
Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 10:18 PM CDT
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COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) -- In just over a week, students who attend class in the Council Bluffs Community School district will begin the new year using the Hybrid Phase laid out by the district. As the first day fast approaches, teachers are getting their classrooms ready.

At Franklin Elementary School, Kelsey Beurskens is getting all set up. She’s heading into her 7th year of teaching, but she remembers her first year vividly.

“They were remodeling the school that year so I didn’t have a lot of time to get the classroom ready, so it was kind of a rush and a lot of unknowns, kind of like this year,” she said with a laugh.

In her classroom, to keep it safe and socially distant, the tables are spread out and fewer kids will sit at each table. She wants her students to feel safe and comfortable.

“Just let them know I’m really happy they’re here and back in the classroom and let them know that we have policies and procedures to keep them safe so we’ll be reviewing those a lot too.”

As she prepares her classroom for both teaching and safety, she’s also preparing mentally, reminding herself that things might change at a moment’s notice.

But she finds comfort in knowing some things won’t change at all.

“The content that we’re teaching and things like that and we’ve already had a lot of great technology in the district that our students are used to and used to seeing,” she said.

Down the hall at Franklin Elementary, first-year teacher Kara Tye is just about finished setting up her 4th-grade classroom.

“We’re all kind of going to be like new teachers this year. None of us have had to deal with this before,” she said.

Her students will also be socially distanced, and visual reminders about masks will be posted in the room.

“We’re just going to take it slow and go over expectations and go over why it’s important to wear our masks and keep a good distance from our friends,” Tye said.

She says she’s a bit overwhelmed, anxious, and nervous, but says summer academy classes from the district, that prepared teachers and let them know what to expect, were helpful.

Along with her first-year jitters, Tye is also a cancer survivor. Her immune system is already weakened putting her at a higher risk.

She plans to keep her classroom as clean as possible and shower right away every day after school.

“That’s something everyone can do to help not spread the virus.”

Students in the district head back to class on August 24. More information about the district’s back to school plans can be found on its website.

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