Meadow View Elementary kicks off 2020 school year

By NATHAN HOWELL | Special to the Reporter

ALABASTER – While it might have looked different due to the issues created by COVID-19, students returned to Meadow View Elementary School for the 2020-2021 school year on Wednesday, Aug. 19.

As smiling faces walked into school for the first time since it was closed back in March due to the pandemic, MVES principal Michelle Brakefield said she was happy to see their faces back in the school.

“We have actually had a smooth transition back to school today,” Brakefield said. “Actually it was very normal and as much of a typical first day as it could be. Children were excited and ready to get to their classroom and meet their teachers and friends.”

Typically on the first day of class, especially for elementary students, parents will walk their kids to their classrooms, but due to new guidelines that was not possible this year. However, parents and students were very cooperative and took pictures together outside before the kids walked off to their new classrooms.

“It was hard, but the parents were very cooperative and they got to stop and take a picture with their children,” Brakefield said.

While the day was moving like a traditional back to school day, there are new changes inside the school that aren’t as traditional, including social distancing, mask wearing, virtual learning and sanitizing procedures.

To prepare for these new changes, teachers and students practiced social distancing, while everyone is understanding of the safety measures in place.

“Everyone is masked and we do lots of practicing with procedures at the beginning of school,” Brakefield said. “Classes today have practiced social distancing in the hallways. They will put an arm out in front of them and they shouldn’t be able to touch the person in front of them. That gives them a visual of what distancing looks like. We have made it as easy as possible for children to follow distancing. We have taken the guesswork out for the students.”

Another big change that is happening throughout the school is the option for virtual learning. Brakefield said that two of the 10 teachers assigned to each grade level were set up to provide instruction to the students who are participating in virtual learning.

Brakefield wanted to assure parents that whatever learning path they decided to enroll their students in, the teachers were more than equipped to provide high quality education for the students.

“I emailed my faculty last night and told them that I have never been so proud of them,” Brakefield said. “They have jumped in with both feet and are learning things about technology that they have never had to do before. They are staying late. They are seeking advice from their peers. They are going to do everything they can to make sure their students grow. I can not praise them enough for their willingness to serve in that way.”

Overall, Brakefield said that if this first day was a reflection of how the rest of the school year will go, then she expects to have a great year despite the challenges that everyone is facing.

She said moving forward she hopes that by following all rules and guidelines, all students will be able to return and also feel comfortable returning for in-person learning.

“I know that children learn best when they are in front of their teacher. They need that relationship and need to form that bond with a teacher and have that face to face instruction,” she said. “I expect all of our students to rise above all of this and succeed whether it be from home or from the school building. I have confidence no matter where the students are learning from the teacher will be able help them grow.”