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Schools will reopen with a different look this year

Masks, plexiglass barriers, one-way hallways, and eating lunch at students desks are just some of the differences some schools will have when they reopen this fall.

DEDHAM, Maine — After a lot of waiting, schools in all counties in Maine have the green light to re-open. Each district is making plans that work in their communities, some schools are opting for a hybrid model and others will have in-person classes five days a week.

Many schools throughout the state have been preparing to safely reopen school this fall. Dedham School will open its doors on September 8 using a hybrid model. Most schools in Maine will look and feel different as they follow CDC guidelines to reopen safely.

At Dedham School, kindergarteners through eighth-graders will follow a hybrid model where groups of eight to ten students will show up twice a week.

Students will be required to wear face masks all day and in some schools lunch will be delivered to their desks.

Despite this, teachers tell us they are working to make this school year feel as normal as possible.

"They're excited to come back, to have their children come back, to be with their peers, to be in the building, to get back learning. They are looking forward to routine, they are looking forward to structure, and to just kind of get another little piece of normalcy back into their lives," says Annie Goodwin, Kinder teacher at Dedham School.

A few changes in school, but no change to the quality of education. Teachers tell NEWS CENTER Maine the focus on learning will remain the same. 

Eating and playing outside are the two times kids will be able to take their mask off at Dedham School.

"Everything will be with them all day long so that they don't have to roam in the classroom," says Julie Nickerson, a 1st-grade teacher at Dedham School.

"Pod 1 is going to be Monday/Thursday and Pod 2 is going to be Tuesday/Friday and our remote day will be Wednesday," says Goodwin.

The school's principal Jeff Paul has been in education for 35 years. Never in his career had he experienced such a different school year.

"We'll have no more than 10 kids in each classroom at a time," says Paul. 

There are Plexiglass barriers in most classes, hand-sanitizer dispensers outside every classroom, and one-way hallways for students to follow proper social distancing guidelines. Students will not be taking part in group activities this year. 

"They're going to be wearing masks and social distancing six feet apart," says Nickerson.

"We are trying to set the most comfortable atmosphere and environment right at their seats so that they are not moving around," says Goodwin.

"Socially and emotionally...we need to get back here," says Nickerson.

Michelle Begin sends her three kids to the Dedham School. Begin says her kids are excited to go back to school and that they all need that piece of normalcy back.

"Just the interaction with their teachers, and their friends, and just the more structures setting of being able to go to the school and attend classes that way," says Begin.

"I don't have any fears or anxieties, I guess I would say I have more of priorities at this point," says Goodwin.

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