Elementary school considering outdoor instruction when students return

It's an opportunity for teachers to get their kids outside and engage their brains in creative ways because COVID-19 protocols in the classroom could make for some long days.

At Suntree Elementary School, new picnic tables have just been installed in a courtyard But they aren’t for lunchtime -- they’re for class time. When school reopens, one student per bench, seated around the tables, and you’ve got an outdoor space for group work.  A time-lapse video shared with FOX 35 News shows volunteers putting down the mulch on which the tables are placed.

“And these special tables allow for physical distancing,” said Marta Griffith, a kindergarten teacher.

Tessa Cleveland is a mom with two students at Suntree Elementary. She donated money to the school to bring the outdoor classrooms.

“Why not give the opportunity to students for many years to come, to have a chance to sit outside and do worksheets or art projects, or whatever it may be that the teacher is wanting to work on?” Cleveland asked.

They’re hoping that this catches on and that other schools in the county start using outdoor classrooms as well. However, Brevard County’s School Board likely won’t be able to buy new equipment. Right now, they’re in the process of trying to cut their budget, so schools will have to fundraise on their own.

“And we’ve got a Go Fund Me page. We’re hoping for donations so we can continue to build,” Griffith said.

Some details about Brevard County’s back-to-school plan still need to be worked out, including the start date,  but Cleveland says she wants her children to have that experience of going to school and interacting with others.

“I think with the precautions that everybody’s taking, it’s probably better for their mental health to attend school than not,” Cleveland added.