Sunday, 23 August 2020

First-grade Florida teachers transform their children's desks into socially distanced JEEPS to make returning to school less intimidating

Two first-grade teachers in Florida have sought to ease their student’s anxieties about returning to school this month amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic by transforming their school desks into little colorful Jeeps.
Patricia Dovi, 35, and Kim Martin, 51, of St. Barnabas Episcopal School in DeLand, spent a week redesigning their student’s desks, which feature construction paper tires, headlights and license plates.
The novel design also features three-sided plastic dividers that serve as windshields and side windows – as well as sneeze and droplet guards.
The two teachers said they wanted to prove that in-person lessons can be both safe and fun, with the Jeeps creating a place of the students to feel comfortable while still abiding by social distancing guidelines.
Two first-grade teachers in Florida have sought to ease their student’s anxieties about returning to school this month amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic by transforming their school desks into little colorful Jeeps.
A picture of Dovi's class is seen above
Two first-grade teachers in Florida have sought to ease their student’s anxieties about returning to school this month amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic by transforming their school desks into little colorful Jeeps
The novel design also features three-sided plastic dividers that serve as windshields and side windows – as well as sneeze and droplet guards
The novel design also features three-sided plastic dividers that serve as windshields and side windows – as well as sneeze and droplet guards
Creative teachers turn student's desks into adorable jeeps
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The desks, spaced several feel apart, are the only place where students are permitted to remove their face masks.
‘Our school gave us Plexiglas tri-folds, which we felt would overwhelm our little ones,’ Martin explained to CNN. ‘So we took the design and turned them into little Jeeps.’
The teachers says they’ve already had a ‘meet-the-teacher’ session with their incoming students, in which they gave them the keys to their ‘car’, and told them, ‘just like in a motor vehicle, you have to stay in your car at all times and wear a mask when you get out in case you come across hazardous conditions.’
Martin said she hoped the inclusion of a vehicle would help to transform social distancing into something that could be fun, engaging and more kid friendly.
They were inspired by a social media post from a kindergarten teacher in Texas, who posted an image to Instagram showing her students’ desks similarly transformed into small cars.
Dovi, who is a self-pro-claimed Jeep fanatic, said she immediately wanted to re-create the design. Both she and Martin paid for the additional materials out of their own pockets.
The two teachers say their collaboration came naturally, for their classrooms are connected by an adjoining door, and they often share lesson plans and supplies.
Enlisting the help of family and friends, the two teachers say the project took them about seven days to finish.
Now, Dovi and Martin say their students can’t wait to take their desks for a test drive when they arrive in class on August 26.
‘It's colorful and it just shows the age of innocence,’ Martin told Business Insider. ‘If we can get them to buy into the idea that sitting in a vehicle is really exciting, maybe it won't be so hard to keep them at their desks.’

Patricia Dovi (left), 35, and Kim Martin (right), 51, of St. Barnabas Episcopal School in DeLand, spent a week redesigning their student’s desks, which feature construction paper tires, headlights and license plates
Patricia Dovi (left), 35, and Kim Martin (right), 51, of St. Barnabas Episcopal School in DeLand, spent a week redesigning their student’s desks, which feature construction paper tires, headlights and license plates
Enlisting the help of family and friends, the two teachers say the project took them about seven days to finish. They paid for the supplies out of their own pockets
Enlisting the help of family and friends, the two teachers say the project took them about seven days to finish. They paid for the supplies out of their own pockets
On their first day back in class, their students will design their own license plates for their Jeeps, the teacher said.
Martin will be adopting a highway theme for her classroom, while Dovi will be implementing a camping theme with her decorations.
‘We were just trying our best to make the room look more kid-appropriate and not so scary,’ Dovi told Insider.
‘It's going to be more fun to say, “Hey, purple Jeep, you're getting out of your lane,”’ Martin added. ‘I think it will be a smart way to keep the kids engaged.’
Paul Garcia, the head of St. Barnabus, said the school is ‘blessed to have such collaborative and forward thinking teachers.’
‘I was truly pleased to hear when the idea to decorate the first graders' desks as Jeeps was presented to me. This is one example of many examples in which this team of teachers and all of our team search and find ways to make our students learning environment fun and engaging, especially, during this difficult time,’ Garcia said.
The headteacher added that Dovi and Martin will be both be reimbursed for the $200 they each spent on their materials.
Head of Jeep exterior design, Mark Allen, also credited the teachers for their imagination and ingenuity, saying the gesture made his ‘heart truly smile.’
More than 150,000 students in Florida have already returned to their desks, despite the ongoing pandemic.
Under an emergency order, Gov. Ron DeSantis has required public schools across the state to reopen their campuses for in-person learning by August 31, unless ordered otherwise by state or local health officials.
So far, Florida has suffered just shy of 600,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 10,273 deaths.
At St. Barnabas (above), students and families at the school were given a choice between virtual and in-person learning
At St. Barnabas (above), students and families at the school were given a choice between virtual and in-person learning
They were inspired by a social media post from a kindergarten teacher in Texas, who posted an image to Instagram showing her students’ desks similarly transformed into small cars
They were inspired by a social media post from a kindergarten teacher in Texas, who posted an image to Instagram showing her students’ desks similarly transformed into small cars
While the state continues to grapple to control the virus' spread, health officials have so far refused to weigh in as to whether or not children should return to campuses so soon.
The Florida Education Association, a labor union that represents teachers and other school staff, have challenged the emergency order, saying it’s still unsafe to return to the classroom.
While a decision on the appeal is made, schools across the state are preparing to return to business as usual – and Dovi and Martin say they’re ready for whatever comes their way.
‘All of us have some sort of anxiety about going back to school. It's going to look 100% different than it's looked in my 20 years of teaching,’ Martin said. ‘But our goal is making our kids happy. The playfulness will help them cope.’
At St. Barnabas, students and families at the school were given a choice between virtual and in-person learning.
Dovi will be teaching 17 kids in her class, with 13 opting for in-person lesson. Martin, meanwhile, has 18 in her class – 17 in-person and one learning remotely.
‘I do feel a little better having those shields there, but it also makes me worried for little people to come in and see those there, you know, it's hard,’ Dovi told Insider.

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