"Good morning. How you doing buddy? Awesome. Don’t get too close. Stay the yellow lines apart."
Teaching staff greet the students at the Utica Academy of Science Charter School who are getting used to a new way of going to class. It’s one procedure after the next that even teachers and staff members are adapting to. Dean of Academics Genevieve Campanella talked about how it was at the beginning of the school year.
"You know I think in the beginning everybody was a little nervous," she said.
Genevieve decided to involve everyone in the process of how the school would handle teaching the students. They’re still using a hybrid model where students attend in person two days and go virtual the rest of the week. Some teachers like Kindergarten Teacher Shannon Ferguson struggled with the initial decision.
"At first I didn’t want to come in because of my underlying health conditions, but actually coming into the building I realized how much our students need us, and how much I need them."
Wednesdays are entirely virtual so the maintenance staff can deep clean the building, but Campanella says the sanitizing doesn’t end there.
"Each of the classrooms are cleaned periodically throughout the day," she said.
Cleaning is only one aspect of maintaining the student’s safety. One Teacher addresses a young student. "Your mask is in the bag. You can have your breakfast Ok." Campanella is confident in her staff.
"All of the staff know the routines, they know the procedures, and they know exactly what to do."
Shannon Ferguson talked about what it's like being a teacher during the pandemic.
"It’s a lot to get used to, but once you do it every day you get used to the fact, then it can be hard, but it’s doable."
The students adapt quickly. "Ok washy, washy." Washing hands works toward keeping the germs away, but Genevieve Campanella realizes there's more to the school day than germs.
"You know we want to make sure they have the academic supports as well as social and emotional supports that they need to be successful."
Shannon Ferguson elaborated on what's being done to keep the students well-being first.
"We also do live zooms twice a day with those students which benefits them and helps them if they need any extra help they get to interact with their teachers and their peers as well."
The school which opened in mid-September hasn’t had any cases of COVID, and attributes that success to following the strict guidelines set forth by the Center for Disease Control.