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Living Images

Don Seabrook | Returning to the classroom

Vale Elementary School principal Sean McKenna let me inside the school Tuesday to photograph what it’s like for students and teachers to operate under COVID-19 restrictions.

Kindergarten through second grade students are allowed in the building for half-day shifts. Between the morning and afternoon time slots, paraprofessionals disinfect the rooms.

We first went to second-grade teacher Deleiny Ledesma’s class. There were about 10 children sitting at desks spread throughout the room. The children were focused on their writing assignment as Ledesma walked from child to child answering questions.

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Vale Elementary School first grade teacher Deleiny Ledesma talks with Preston Chipman about an assignment at the school Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. 

The kids didn’t seem to mind wearing masks; it’s most likely becoming pretty normal for them. I noticed their belongings in laundry baskets beside their desks. The walls seemed barren of posters and educational materials compared to what I’ve seen in elementary school classrooms in past years.

Maybe it’s the smaller class size or because they were sitting far apart, but it seemed more like a college classroom as the children were fully into their work. There were no side conversations, no one getting up to get something. It was very orderly.

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Vale Elementary School first grade teacher Deleiny Ledesma answers Sofia Acero's writing questions while teaching a class at the school Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. It's been over a week since the school started using a hybrid teaching schedule to bring some of its student's back to class. Children are spread out in the rooms, their belongings kept in baskets beside their desks.

My next stop was to visit a teacher instructing her students by remote learning. I walked into Dawn Pace’s third-grade room as she was standing in front of computer monitors talking with students at their homes.

A quilt hung as a backdrop with black lace draped across it. It looked like the stage of a low-budget play production. Chairs were stacked along a back wall and the center of the room was empty.

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Still doing remote teaching on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, Vale Elementary School 3rd grade teacher Dawn Pace talks to her students through the internet in her empty classroom using a quilt as a backdrop over her white board.

McKenna told me about the cleaning process between the morning and afternoon sessions and I returned to the school to photograph teacher aides sanitizing classrooms once students left the building before lunch.

Paraprofessionals worked from classroom to classroom, squirting liquid on door handles and then desks and chairs. After letting it sit on the surfaces, they wiped them clean.

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Between the morning and afternoon session Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, Paraprofessional Sandra Cornelio sprays cleaner on door handles, desks and chairs in a kindergarten room at Vale Elementary School in Cashmere. The cleaning also takes place when the afternoon session ends and the students leave the building to go home.

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Allison Erdmann, left, and Sandra Cornelio, Paraprofessionals at Vail Elementary School, spray down desks with cleaner after kindergarten students have left their morning session Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020.

With the two largest schools in North Central Washington (Wenatchee and Eastmont) adopting similar approaches to opening up the first week of November, it was good to get a look at what it will be like for the students and teachers.

Photo Editor Don Seabrook: (509)661-5225

Photo Editor

I was born in Wenatchee, went to Eastmont High School, graduated from the University of Washington with a communications degree in journalism. I have a wife and three children.

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