In a pandemic, teachers find creative ways to help the youngest students learn to love school

Sophie Grosserode – Rockland/Westchester Journal News USA TODAY NETWORK – in the D&C on 12/23/2020

Kindergarten begins each day with a good morning song in Kayleen Lugo’s class at Traphagen School in Mount Vernon. Then she does an emotional “check-in” with her 4- and 5-year-olds before moving on to the calendar, the weather and the day’s activities.

Lugo has only four students in front of her, sitting far apart at desks decorated to look like Jeeps. Her other 11 students are joining from home, via computer. Many have never met Lugo face-to-face or set foot in her classroom, since their parents have chosen all-remote instruction for them.

Welcome to kindergarten in a pandemic.

There is no circle time on fluffy rugs, no hugging or sharing, no lines of tiny students holding hands through the hallways.

But Lugo’s students are in good spirits. When it’s time for their daily check-in, which doubles as an opportunity for spelling practice, most say they are in the G-R-E-E-N zone, which means they’re feeling happy.

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