It’s a point of pride for the Lafayette Township School District that it was able to stay the course through a very difficult year.
“It is amazing to watch as our students and staff have adapted to instruction in a Covid-19 world,” said Superintendent Jennifer Cenatiempo. “While we are all masked and distanced, the instruction has been largely untouched by the pandemic. Our students are soaring and working to meet all grade-level goals.”
Student favorites, such as the 100th day of school, Earth Day celebrations, and Eighth Grade Revolutionary War Debate all have continued without a hitch.
Cenatiempo said maintaining full-time instruction has been the focus of the school community. The open spaces inside and outside the school have certainly helped, she said.
Students have been reporting to class full time, from 8 a.m. to 2:17 p.m. every school day, since September. Cenatiempo credited the plan developed last summer that included ideas from parents, teachers, local residents, and school board members.
“Our stakeholders engaged in an iterative process of development for our reopening plan which integrated the ideas and feedback from all participants,” she said. “They met weekly to debrief ideas and develop our course of action.”
Since September the school has offered parents a choice for their children: full in-person learning, remote learning, or a hybrid option.
“Throughout the year, we allowed parents to roll between these options to best meet the needs of their family,” Cenatiempo said.
On March 29, when the fourth quarter started, the district dropped the hybrid option.
A spacious campus
Lafayette has one school building that houses 200 students from pre-K through grade eight. Because of its large size, the district has been able to follow the state’s six-foot social distancing rule. It has also allowed students to have daily snacks and lunch at school since the beginning of the school year.
Each student has their own desk and their own table that no one else sits at, Cenatiempo explained. During Covid, students did not change classes but instead stayed at their same seat and table. One area of the table is for their books. Come lunchtime all tables are sanitized before students eat at them.
All of the district’s play equipment is sanitized before and after students use it at recess.
All students attend daily classes in physical education or health classes. Special areas of instruction are taught virtually or in synchronous classes that teach virtually and in-person at the same time, with real-time teacher interaction.
The kids are always outside when the weather is nice. The school’s 30-plus acres provide plenty of room for outdoor gym, snack time, and lunch Cenatiempo said. There’s an outdoor pavilion where students can have their snacks. The grounds also include a walking track, basketball court, playground, and volleyball court.
“We have a lot of exterior features that maybe some of the other districts may not have,” said Cenatiempo.
As a precaution, the school turned to remote teaching for a week after Thanksgiving and winter break, plus one additional day in December, and another six days prior to spring break after several staff members and students exhibited Covid symptoms, Cenatiempo said. During this break from in-person learning, the Department of Health investigate the potential cases. Many of the symptoms turned out to be allergy related.
“There has been no evidence of school spread of the virus,” said Cenatiempo.
Students and staff get temperature screenings as they arrive at school and throughout the day. Hand sanitizers, hand washing, and social distancing reminders are all readily available.
“Windows are open, and our ventilation systems bring in as much air as possible,” Cenatiempo said.
The building is fully sanitized each day with a fogger and other cleaning products.
“I am tremendously proud of our district for navigating this pandemic crisis while staying open each day for our students,” Cenatiempo said. ”We are thrilled to have been able to maintain full in-person learning for all students throughout the school year.”
“I am tremendously proud of our district for navigating this pandemic crisis while staying open each day for our students.” Superintendent Jennifer Cenatiempo