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Local school getting creative by creating outdoor learning spaces

Edith Wolford Elementary Outdoor Classrooms
Posted at 8:30 AM, Oct 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-21 10:34:11-04

BLACK FOREST — Local schools are getting creative when it comes to teaching in the time of COVID-19, rethinking where learning takes place and creating entire outdoor classrooms.

Edith Wolford Elementary in Academy School District 20 created nineteen outdoor learning spaces around the school to help with social distancing and student engagement.

"Some are assigned to grade levels, others are just up for the taking so if you take your class out and it's unoccupied then it's yours for the duration," said Robin Lowery, Principal of Edith Wolford Elementary.

One of the spaces located across the street from the elementary school was burned in the 2013 Black Forest Fire, but with a little help from the Parent Teacher Organization, it's helping keep students safe.

"They bought us three large wonderful shade structures, we have one on our turf field, one across the street, and one across the street," said Lowery. "We've also had logs donated for flexible seating that we can move around to create different learning spaces."

While they are outside, the school says the safety of their staff and students remain a top priority.

"Typically with our smaller students, we do require the masks because they don't really understand social distancing. Our older students, as long as they are outdoors and feel comfortable, they are allowed to take their masks off," said Lowery.

Teachers say the students enjoy being outside and it helps keep them engaged, but they've had to overcome some obstacles.

"We do have a lot of things on technology, and at this point, we don't have access to WIFI in the outdoor learning spaces. So we have to rely on paper and pencil which for them is a little bit challenging because they're use to working with IPADS or laptops," said Kelly Teigen, Fourth-Grade Teacher at Edith Wolford Elementary School.

WIFI is one of the many long-term goals that the school has for the outdoor learning spaces as well as more structures to help combat winter. The school says they've been working with the community to raise funds for some of their future plans.