COLORADO SPRINGS — Returning to school involves a lot of variables during the pandemic. Between shifting schedules, cohorts, and hybrid learning models- there's a lot of changes parents, teachers, and students are experiencing this year.
That's also the case when it comes to a favorite for many young students- recess. Chinook Trail Elementary in Colorado Springs is adapting in a way to limit the number of surfaces among students.
During a meet the teacher event at the school Friday, families felt the typical back to school emotions- as did school leaders.
"It's been so long and I can't wait to get back in the building can't wait to see the kids," Jenny Williams, a fourth grade teacher said.
When El Paso County started reopening playgrounds earlier this year, it became a good sign for principals like Patrick Schumaker who wondered what recess would look like.
"I think we all as principals we had that concern early on," Schumaker said, "we didn't get spikes from those areas."
Schumaker and teachers at the school have made changes to make sure kids still have the outlets they need. The major changes include splitting each class up in different areas around the school. Each grade will have recess together, but the cohorts will remain in one area either the basketball courts, field, playground, and a gravel area.
Instead of a cart of things like soccerballs, kick balls, and jump ropes- each teacher received a mesh bag of those items for students to share among their cohort.
The bags and supplies also meant an additional cost for the school- between $2,500 and $3,000. Academy District 20 says those costs can be covered by CARES Act funding.
"The biggest challenge is going to be the kids not getting to play with their friends that they would normally get to play with," Stacey Buckhaults, a parent at the school said.
As students return and will be in one place for a majority of the day, school leaders see time out of the classroom as an important part of the day for the students academic success and mental health.
"Especially this year is going to be very you know- sitting in your desk a lot," Williams said.