Seeing more students outside? Teachers moving classes outdoors for break from buildings

With the coronavirus impacting almost every aspect of schooling it’s likely more area teachers than ever are checking weather reports each school morning.

Many area school districts are encouraging their teachers to move their classes outside to help relieve some of the claustrophobic aspects of the coronavirus safety protocols now part of every school.

“We are constantly checking the weather,” Fairfield North Elementary teacher Christy Munafo said during quick break from leading her class as they sat reading in the grassy area of the Fairfield Township school’s playground.

School days everywhere now include all students wearing protective masks and social distancing, which for some students can feel restrictive. All the many changes brought on by the precautions are at least initially strange to some youngsters and teens, said local school officials.

State health officials have ordered some school activities considered more likely to spreading possible coronavirus microscopic droplets through exhaling students – such as choir and band classes – to be held outdoors.

Getting outside when the weather permits, is a positive counter-balance to the physical, in-building restrictions now required by the state for all Ohio K-12 schools, said Munafo.

“It’s so important to get the kids outside and give them mask breaks especially while they are trying to get used to being in a mask all day. And the kids have been so great and resilient,” she said.

“I was really surprised because going in (to the new school year) I was a little apprehensive, but they have surprised me so much,” said Munafo.

Gina Gentry-Fletcher, spokeswoman for the 10,000-student district said outdoor learning is a new strategy encouraged across the district, which draws students from the city of Fairfield and Fairfield Township.

“Holding classes outdoors is a great way for students to spread out in a space that is not confined. It also allows the students to enjoy these days of warm weather before the change of seasons,” said Gentry-Fletcher.

Munafo is keenly aware of the temporary nature of this type of learning option.

“I tell them (students) let’s get our time outside before it turns cold,” she said.

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