Chester Upland School District students return to classroom

CHESTER, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Students in the Chester Upland School District are among the latest who are heading back to the classroom amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Down the hallways and gymnasiums of schools in the district, it's like nothing ever changed.

But, before you even journey into a classroom, the signs of the times are as clear as the images projected by temperature check machines at building entrances.

Even more telling: the six-foot, shielded spaced-out seating in classrooms.

"We developed what we call a 'ready to learn and accelerate' school reopening plan," said Superintendent Doctor Carol D. Birks.

Birks said the district is following CDC recommended guidelines at all of their six schools.

In a video released by the district, each layer of protection for both students and teachers is explained in detail.

"We have masks, we have hand sanitizer, we have plexiglass," Birks said in the video.

The planning has also been meticulous.

The district opted to phase in students in three parts.

First, students with special needs, then prekindergarten to second graders, and now third to twelfth graders.

"It's been using technology from home but I'm excited to get back with my classmates and teachers," said senior Sierra Thomas.

"I'm excited just to finish my senior year and have a basketball season again," added senior Fareed Burton.

District officials also said the success of reopening buildings is also on parents.

At least 50 percent agreed to some in-person learning when asked.

While video and surveys are one thing, Dr. Birks said it was seeing it actually in motion that was really an eye-opening experience.

"You know the protocols were being followed throughout the district. We had our signs up and everything and the signage on the floor and everything else and I was happy to see it in action," she said.
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