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Pike Liberal Arts opens school year on Tuesday

The school bell will toll today at Pike Liberal Arts School and, in so doing, will signal the up-coming first day of the 2020-2021 school year for all schools in Pike County.

Teachers and administrators were busy Tuesday making sure that everything was in place to open the doors of PLAS in these unprecedented times.

Headmaster Eric Burkett appeared relaxed but eager and spoke with confidence. “We want to be in school.”

“Those who show up on day-one will be here because they want to be here,” Burkett said.
“Our teachers; our students and our staff are here because they want to be here. The benefits of being here in person far outweigh not being here. We want to be here and we have done things right so we can be here.”
Burkett said, by “being here,” the teachers and students understand what is required for them to be back in school amid the challenges of COVID-19.

Temperature checks will be made of each student and a nurse will be on campus to assist with the checks and any health-related concerns.

“Masks must be worn in the building when social distancing cannot be maintained,” Burkett said. “Masks must be worn in the hallways, common areas and restrooms.  We are fortunate that our largest wave of students in the cafeteria will be 84 so we will be able to social distance there.”

Until the cafeteria is set up so that lunches can be boxed for serving, the students will bring lunches from home. Water fountains will instead dispense bottle fillers for added protection.

Hand sanitizers will be available for student use at sanitizing stations in the classrooms and throughout the school. Desks and common surfaces and high-touch areas will be sanitized as needed and necessary.

The building will be cleaned and sanitized throughout after school hours.

“The school building will probably be cleaner than it has ever been and will be kept that way,” Burkett said. “Our students will come to school more conscious of good personal hygiene and of the surfaces around them. We are coming back to school with a brand-new idea of clean.”

Burkett said Pike Liberal Arts’ plan for coming back to school amid a pandemic is a good one and has been well-communicated.

And, in the event, the flexibility of the day dictates it so, PLAS will go to the virtual plan in place.

Jennifer Barron, fourth-grade teacher, and her daughter, Olivia, a member of the PLAS Class of 2000-21, were in agreement that they are proud to be back in school.

“Students learn better face-to-face,” Jennifer Barron said. “You can know by watching students’ faces when something is not clicking. Then, you can see that light come on. That’s why being in the classroom is so important and so exciting.”

But, Barron said, things don’t always go as planned and as hoped. So, it is important to have an alternate plan.

“We are confident that good and wise decisions have been made if we have to switch to virtual learning,” she said. “We hope that doesn’t happen but we are confident that our students will do well if it does.”

Olivia agreed with her mom, but her hopes are that, with the plans in place, the school year 2020-2021 will be a good year for students and teachers everywhere.

“At PLAS we are good-to-go and we are excited to be back in school,” she said.