AHWATUKEE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- As education leaders across the state try to figure out how to safely bring students back to school, one Valley institution is sharing details on how it has hosted students for weeks without a COVID-19 outbreak.

St. John Bosco Catholic School in Ahwatukee has been holding pre-K classes in person for nearly a month. Preschool Director Jamie Bescak says administrators planned all summer to make sure it could provide an environment where students, parents, and staff felt comfortable continuing learning amid a pandemic.

In the pre-K classes, students wear masks. If they need to take a breather, students can sit at their desks, take off their masks, and rest behind a Plexiglas partition. Bescak says there are morning temperature checks, enhanced sanitizing practices, and PPE.

"We have our cohorts so they are by homeroom in their cohorts and they are not to intermix," says Bescak.

Next week, the school will put its protocols to the test when it welcomes nearly 300 K-8 students back on campus. Classrooms for K-8 students do not have Plexiglas partitions and the desks are not a full 6-feet apart, but masks are mandatory and each class will keep to itself.

Bescak says even the lesson plans have changed to keep classrooms separated.

"We normally do buddies where we take a little class, a kindergarten class, and buddy them up with 6th grade, and they do activities together, reading together," says Bescak. "We're going to have to get more creative. We're going to become pen pals, work on our letter writing, maybe make videos for each other and send those back and forth -- just have fun with it."

If a COVID-19 case is discovered, Bescak says the private school will accommodate classes in quarantine with live virtual instruction. Students who are not ready to return to campus next week will also have the option of sticking with virtual instruction.

"We want to be flexible," says Bescak.

Bescak says the school received $1,000 in CARES funds, which were used to purchase equipment for sanitizing and PPE. She says the school identified additional funds in their operating budget to put aside for more PPE in the future.

According to Bescak, no teacher or staffer has resigned in response to the decision to conduct in-person learning as part of its hybrid model.

 

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