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First day of in-person class at Palm Valley School in Rancho Mirage

Palm Valley School

Many people wonder what school will look like when students are allowed back in the classroom.

For one valley school, that day is Tuesday, September 8 after it received the approval of an in-person learning waiver by Riverside County and the state.

“Okay, let’s put our masks back on please,” a teacher at Palm Valley School told students during class Tuesday.

Kindergarten through 5th-grade students at Palm Valley School in Rancho Mirage got to be the first students in the Coachella Valley to return to in-class learning.

“It’s very exciting here," head of school, Steven Sherman told News Channel 3. "Great to see the kids, great to see the parents all excited,” he added.

But it’s no normal return to class. As part of the school’s safety protocol outside people are not allowed on campus so Palm Valley School provided us videos of what the first day looked it.

“I need eyes on me. I want to see all of your beautiful eyes,” one teacher is heard saying in a video.

“We ask that they arrive with their masks on during the introduction process and once we do a temperature check and screening," Sherman said. "Once they’re in the classroom we ask that 2nd grade and above have their masks on,” he said.

Sherman, told News Channel 3 about some of the changes inside the classroom.

“It looks a little bit different than even a normal classroom would,” he said.

There’s no sharing of school supplies.

“Students have partitions that are set up individually at each desk," he said. "The desks are further a part,” he added.

Thought went into every aspect of the school day. Parents had to drop off their kids at staggering drop off times.

“We also have no interior hallways in our lower school so all transitions to classrooms will be exterior," he explained. "We’ve also upgraded our ventilation systems,” he said.

As detailed inside the in-person learning waiver they received, all employees at the school must be tested for the coronavirus over a two month period.

“We’ll have 25 percent of our staff tested every two weeks so every two months all of our faculty and staff will be tested,” Sherman explained.

But not all students are back in the classroom. Some families aren’t ready to return so the school is still offering online learning.

For grades 6 through 12, distance learning is the only option but the school is starting special programs this week geared towards those students.

“We are starting this week where we’re offering what we call afternoon activities that’ll be socially distanced and they’ll be outside wearing masks and doing individual frisbee toss, games and competitions to kind of get them socialized, interacting and mostly get them outside moving around,” he said.

Reacting to reopening, “It’s what’s best for our families and for our kids and that’s what fulfills us and what’s rewarding to us,” he said.

Other local schools with applications pending approval include Desert Christian Academy, King's School in Palm Springs, and The Palm Desert Learning Tree and Desert Adventist Academy in Palm Desert.

Education / News Headlines / Top Stories

Caitlin Thropay

Caitlin Thropay is the Weekend Morning Anchor and Lifestyle Reporter for KESQ News Channel 3, The Desert’s News Leader. Learn more about Caitlin here.

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