Chinook Elementary School prepping to welcome students back with open arms

One school in Academy District 20 is getting ready to have students back for the first time since March.
Published: Aug. 21, 2020 at 7:13 PM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) -The largest district in Colorado Springs will welcome some students back into the classroom on Monday. Before elementary school kids head back we took a look at how Chinook Trail Elementary School is changing amid the pandemic.

Staff members there have been working round the clock coming up with creative ways to help students social distance and keep themselves safe and healthy inside the classroom. The principal at the school tells 11 News walking through the doors after the school was shut down due to COVID-19 was an alarming sight.

“When we came back in it wasn’t the happiest place to be. Stuff was still dated March and stuff was falling down, and this did not look fun and inviting,” said Patrick Schumaker, principal at Chinook Trail Elementary School.

It’s been nearly six months since staff walked through the doors at Chinook Trail. Now they’re just days away from welcoming students back into the building. This year though, things look different.

“Everything we’re doing is different this year. We’ve kind of thrown the rule book out.”

Students will come back to stickers on the floor reminding them which way to walk and to keep 6 feet apart. A normal pre-COVID school day is no longer an option.

“We have five separate doors to go in and outside,” Schumaker said. “They’re going to get up and do brain breaks like they always have. We’re going to give them the mask breaks.”

Stickers may line the floors and hand sanitizer will be around every corner, Schumaker wants families to know that those small things won’t change what the school is all about.

“Things are going to look different, but the heart of what we do at this school is not different, and so we’re going to welcome you back with open arms. You may be 6 feet away or 3 feet away but we’re going to welcome you back.”

This year, like every other, the school has a theme as the fall semester begins. In the year of COVID, the Chinook Trail Elementary theme is “We’re diving back into learning.”

“There’s so many waves crashing now, but when you go scuba diving, you have to get through those waves and get down where it’s calm and beautiful. We’re at a spot where we’re going to open up the school and it’s calm and beautiful for kids.”

Schumaker says he won’t let the pandemic get in the way of students’ education.

“If we quit doing school because of the virus then we have failed our kids,” said Schumaker. “We have to open and that’s a guiding force in my brain right now and so it’s not can we open, it’s we’re going to open, so it’s how we’re going to do it.

Chinook Trail Elementary will welcome students back in thirds to let students adapt to the new normal.

Schumaker tells 11 News he and his staff are excited and ready to see everyone’s little faces again.

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