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Children returned to in-person hybrid learning at Grant Watts grade school in Scappoose and Warren Elementary

SUBMITTED PHOTO: GRANT WATTS - Marcus Ahlers enjoys being back to in-person learning at Grant Watts Elementary in Scappoose. It proved to be a memorable first week of in-school hybrid learning at Grant Watts and Warren elementary schools.

The week, which began Monday, Feb. 8, started off with an internet interruption and concluded with a late-winter snowstorm.

In between all of this, students were finally able to enjoy the surroundings of an actual classroom.

Even though Warren Elementary principal Jen Angelo had a lot on her plate, she said the first few days went well.

"I think to start out with, there was just a lot of nerves and anxiety because things always look good on paper," Angelo said, noting she was impressed with students and teachers. "I was very impressed with the first few days at school. Things seemed to go off pretty seamlessly. Our kids did an amazing job with their endurance in wearing masks throughout the day and staying socially distanced from each other."

Angelo continued, "It was different and it was much quieter than it usually is. But I think with the nerves going in, it was much better than any of us ever could have hoped."

At Grant Watts, Keely Nudo teaches kindergarten. She acknowledged school got off to a bumpy start last week.

"If you had asked me on Monday — none of us had any technology," Nudo said. "We had no internet, no anything for the whole day."

However, the situation improved after that for her young students. Tuesday, Feb. 9, she said, was "wonderful."

"It was a really great day, because we had all of the pieces back in place," Nudo said. "It's very weird, because we have September behavior in February."

But in many ways, this back-to-school moment is very different.

"In September, we usually get a lot of separation anxiety, and they don't want to go to school because it's too scary," Nudo said. "They have been wanting to go to school for months now, so they're so excited to be here. They're so excited to have their own space. They're so excited to have their own tools to learn with. There are just so many things that they're excited about."

Amy Cole, who teaches second- and third-grade physical education at Grant Watts, saw the same in her students.

"Overall, I think we've had a really successful first start. I know a lot of kids are really happy to be back, just as well as teachers are," Cole said.

It turns out that PE isn't so hard to do with health and safety protocols, in large part because it takes place in big, open rooms instead of in the classroom.

"There is plenty enough room for kids to social distance in our gymnasium and in our multi-purpose room where we're holding PE classes," Cole said. "Weather permitting, at this time of year, we can take kids outside as well."

The weather didn't cooperate last week, though. Scappoose schools were closed Friday, Feb. 12, due to a winter storm. That didn't affect students in the Monday/Tuesday cohort, but it meant an abbreviated return for students in the Thursday/Friday cohort.

All of the youngsters at Grant Watts and Warren do have to be aware of safety protocols.

"We have done a lot of going over rules for kids, because some of the things they have to do are different," Cole pointed out. "We definitely are frequently reminding kids to social distance, because during PE time, that's not the norm.

"A lot of times, we work on a lot of cooperation games, so they have to work with each other, especially younger kids," Cole added, noting that with safety measures, "we have been making sure that we are planning games and activities that kids can social distance with."

Overall, coming back to campus has been a good experience, the educators agree.

"While it's kind of wild and a little bit crazy, it's also pretty awesome," Nudo said.

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