Six Feet Apart

I spent this past weekend recreating, cutting, and mailing invitations to my sister’s socially distant baby shower. In our three months of planning, it has morphed from a typical party of baby themed games to a drive-by wave at the mom-to-be. The difference between normal social events and our new socially distanced life has made me reflect on what the future looks like and what changes are going to stick.

Obviously, the teacher in me continuously thinks about the future of school. What will my classroom look like next year? (I am not even ready to discuss the idea of what happens if we can’t go back). Luckily for us, Denmark’s schools have started reopening, showing teachers what our future might have in store.

The biggest change noted in the article is that social distancing is still embedded throughout the school day. Parents are not allowed inside the buildings. With IEP and 504 meetings, parent panels and sporting events, parents are always around our schools. How would we continue to involve all our stakeholders if parents aren’t allowed through the doors? What would parent-teacher conferences or back to school night look like if we have to go digital?

Socially distancing Denmark’s students means classrooms have to be divided up. Each teacher is only working with a small group instead of multiple groups throughout the day. Smaller class sizes aren’t something any teacher is going to say no to, but it also means that students are physically spread apart. How do you foster collaboration when students can’t get within an arm’s length of each other? I can only imagine the sadness of students not getting to play with their friends on the playground. I can’t imagine keeping my handshakes, high-fives, and fist bumps to myself as students walk back into my room on the first day.

After reading the article, the saddest change for me is the continuation of social distancing for teachers. I miss my colleagues more than anything, so having our only interactions be from across the hallway would be challenging. I would miss eating lunch together; maybe we could do department zoom lunches from our individual classrooms. We know teachers can collaborate from a distance (we are doing it all over the country at the moment), but there is something about being in a room together that just gets ideas flowing.

Other changes in Denmark include a closed library, students entering school through multiple doorways, increased cleaning procedures, and handwashing every hour. I am sure as our educational leaders look at how to open our schools safely they will consider all of these measures and more. I hope that they are having these conversations now, even with so much uncertainty the future.

We all know education is going to look a whole lot different next year, but I am counting down the days until I am back in my classroom, back with my students, and back to being closer than six feet apart.



Rachel Perugini

I am originally from Pennsylvania where I earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Shippensburg University. In 2012, I moved to Arizona to teach on the Navajo Reservation; I liked the state so much I decided to stay. I taught language arts, reading, and journalism for three years at Many Farms High School. During that time, I earned a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction for Reading. In 2015, I moved to Flagstaff where I currently teach 10th and 11th grade English. I have been an avid reader all my life, so I love that my job gives me that chance to read amazing books with my students all day long.

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