Some Mesa Public Schools students to return to in-person learning next week

It’s back to school for the second time this school year, as Mesa Public Schools will begin modified in-person learning on Sept. 14.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, school will feel and look different for students. There will be no sharing of school supplies this yer, and no playing on the playground.

Meanwhile, teachers are also finding ways to keep students, as well as themselves, safe.

"Just in case one of the students touches something in the class that they weren’t supposed to, they can throw it in the bin and I’ll sanitize it later," said second-grade teacher Meghan Schmidt. "It’s scary, but I want to make sure it’s going to be a fun and safe place as well. Just going to take it one day at a time and hope for the best."

Students in Mesa have been divided into two groups for the modified schedule, with Group "A" attending class on Mondays and Thursdays, and Group "B" on Tuesdays and Fridays. All students will attend virtual classes on Wednesdays.

Teachers and staff have been preparing for several weeks.

"Even though we’re separate and not physically together, we have been the most collaborative we’ve ever been," said Christal Arbogast, principal of Emerson Elementary School.

Students will notice other changes

Other changes kids will notice include smaller class sizes, as well as a requirement for everyone on campus to wear face masks, as well as mask breaks. In the cafeteria, kids will be distanced at tables, and they are not allowed to sit in a group.

As parents prepare to send kids back to school, this principal hopes kids will practice something in particular at home.

"The best thing to do with students right now is to start giving them experience for wearing that mask, help them build stamina for wearing that mask," said Arbogast.

About 60% of students in Mesa schools will be participating in the modified in-person schedule, with the rest choosing to stick with virtual only learning. The district hopes to be back in-person full time when it meets all the benchmarks for minimal community spread of COVID-19.