Liberty schools ready for students with changes in place, like combining some grade levels

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LIBERTY, Mo. — The path to learning will look a little different inside elementary buildings in Liberty Public Schools.

“It’s just been a little bit harder trying to get them to understand how safe they’re going to have to be and how aware they’re going to have to be all day,” Amanda Beers said.

She’s a mom to three students at Liberty schools. They’re preparing to start face-to-face learning Sept. 8.

Elementary schools are prepped and ready to go. They’ve used stickers and Velcro patches to mark the floor every six feet to help students social distance. Masks will also be required at all times.

“This is a much larger classroom that allows us to open up,” Lillian Schumacher Elementary Principal Chris Gabriel said.

He said classes will be roughly 16-22 students, depending on space in the room.

“We’ve placed hand sanitizer at every doorway,” Gabriel said.

Desks are already properly distanced, and students will find containers with individual materials on them. Each student in the district gets one to cut down on cross-contamination.

“In elementary classrooms, there’s a lot of sharing that goes on typically, and so the container allows us — at every elementary in Liberty — so that students have their own set of stuff,” Gabriel said.

Students will eat lunch at their desks, and the cafeteria will become an art room with lots of space.

Gabriel said schools have had to get creative with class sizes.

Some buildings in the district, though not Lillian Schumacher, are combining grades, like Kindergarten and first graders or fourth and fifth graders.

Some parents are apprehensive about how that’s going to work.

“There are so many mixed thoughts, feelings, emotions,” said Beth Zumhofe, mom to a fourth grader at Ridgeview Elementary.

“I mean every grade you’re in from what you were before to the grade you’re now in, there’s such an advancement in maturity, what’s happening, your feelings, you social skills. It could be wonderful, or it could be an epic distraction,” she said. “I don’t know.”

Gabriel assure parents they’re doing what’s best for their kids.

“I know that that’s a stressor and different for parents and kids, but it gives us an opportunity probably in those situations to look at things more from a skill-based perspective of how can we group kiddos together about their from their academic strengths and weaknesses,” Gabriel said.

This year’s theme at Lillian Schumacher is “rise up,” and Gabriel has no doubt these Sharks will never stop moving forward.

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