Private schools preparing for kids to come back next month

Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 7:17 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 14, 2020 at 9:21 PM EDT
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Governor Cooper has laid out his plans for public schools, but a pair of private schools in New Bern are already preparing for their students to return to the classroom this fall.

"It allows for speed and accuracy. You don't get into the building without having your temperature taken," says St. Paul Principal Deacon David Kierski, as he explains the schools new infrared temperature monitoring system.

As students comes through the door, the system will take their temperature, recognize their face, and digitally store their check-in history.

Removing the burden of temperature taking from staff, and alleviating any fear for students about returning to school.

“It can be a great experience for them and not an experience that they fear,” Kierski adds. “Not an experience that they stay up at night, hard to get out of bed because I’m so worried about what’s going to happen at school today, that we kind of take the physical part of the equation off the plate as much as possible.”

An in-person experience is one that educators say is crucial not just for learning development, but for mental and social growth as well.

"It's a balance. Can we get to zero risk? I think the answer is no. But what's the risk on the other side to their social, emotional well-being," Kierski questions.

The Epiphany School is also getting ready to welcome students back next month.

Socially distanced classrooms are just one part of their safety plan.

"We have several exterior doors so they're not all coming through one entrance. So we'll have staff members set up taking temperatures and making sure they're healthy and well," explains the school's Director of Advancement Brittany Spear.

A mask requirement hasn't been decided on just yet, but one parent says she's comfortable with the steps they're already taking to protect her daughter.

"I'm most excited because she's excited. And that makes us really, really happy as family," says Shemeka Kemp, whose daughter is entering the 4th grade.

Both schools say re-opening comes down to one of three plans, much like the one Cooper has laid out for public schools.

"We know that this is obviously a situation that change in a couple days. So we've expressed that to our families," Spear explains.

But in the meantime parents are doing their part to educate their kids as well.

“We have eased her fears by making sure she’s been exposed, in a sense of learning, more about coronavirus.”

St. Paul’s is run by the Diocese of Raleigh, so any decisions moving forward will ultimately come from the diocese as a whole.

Epiphany will make decisions about which plan to implement independently through consultation with their Board of Trustees. They hope to make that decision at least 2 weeks before school starts.

The Epihpany School is schedule to resume school on August 19th. St. Paul students are expected to be back on August 13th.

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