Classrooms will look different as some students return to in-person learning in Wake County

COVID-19 and schools

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Some students are heading back to the classroom in Wake County next week.

Starting with social distancing markers, students will wait in line to have their temperatures taken and COVID-19 screening completed before entering the building.

Middle and high school students have stricter social distancing guidelines from the state than elementary students.

At Athens Drive Magnet High School, about half the students are returning to in-person learning. They’ll be in three rotating groups. The first group returns to classes next Wednesday.

“There’s going to be some things that are going to be very familiar to students, but it’s not going to be school like they know it,” said Principal Stephen Mares.

Classrooms are set up for students to be six feet apart.

“[I’m] just super excited about them coming back, I really am,” said teacher Chris Remaley.

Students haven’t been learning in person in almost a year.

“It’s been harder to build relationships. I feel like that really is more than half of the job of being a teacher is building a relationship,” said Remaley.

Most classes will have about five students in person at a time, with others joining virtually.

Mares said one of the biggest challenges will be lunch time.

There will be three separate lunches.

Students will grab their food, then sit socially distanced while all facing the same direction.

To meet CDC guidelines, which mainly encourage social distancing, bathroom occupancy will be limited as well.

There’s an outside area for mask breaks and cleaning supplies are in every room.

The faculty is confident in everyone’s ability to encourage and follow safety guidelines.

“We deal with the teen culture every day, before pandemic, during pandemic, and we’ll deal with it post-pandemic,” said Mares.

They said there’s a concern everyone’s not yet vaccinated, but they’re putting confidence in their safety protocols until it happens.

As for students who ride the bus, they’ll be limited per bus, required to wear masks, have a self-screening obligation and then will be screened again in person at the school.

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