Mrs. Reynolds has been seen all over the school helping out this year. While most assistant principals spend their time in their offices, Mrs. Reynolds is helping out in classrooms. She comes into our room during lunch and it is fun to see her because many of my classmates had Mrs. Reynolds when she taught second grade. At the beginning of the year Mrs. Reynolds was in a foot cast; that must have been tough getting around. Good thing we have an elevator. I wanted to ask Mrs. Reynolds how things were going this year, so here are a few of my questions and answers with her.

Luke: Is it hard being a vice principal?

Mrs. Reynolds: Being a vice principal (otherwise known as an assistant principal) is the best job! I love helping students and teachers grow. It’s a challenging job, but that’s what makes it so fun. Every day is different.

Luke: Was it hard being a vice principal when we were hybrid? Can you explain what was hard about it?

Mrs. R.: Hybrid was more challenging, because it meant that I was able to check in with students in person less often. Some children are challenged by remote learning of any kind, and when we were hybrid, teachers were not as available to students who needed help because they were teaching their other cohort. I also worry about things like students not having access to enough food or a warm, safe place to be. Our school works hard to provide food to children when they are remote or hybrid, but I still worry!

Luke: Is social distancing hard for you, being a vice principal?

Mrs. R.: Being socially distant from students is very hard. I miss the hugging! I also miss being able to crouch down to a child’s level and get close and help them with their work or hear them read.

Luke: Are you used to wearing a mask now because you wear it every day? Do you have a favorite mask that you wear?

Mrs. R.: I am very used to wearing a mask now. When I get close (but not too close!) to students, I wear a face shield in addition to my mask. My favorite mask has crayons all over it, but all my masks have fun prints. One of the teacher’s family made mask clips with a 3D printer to help ensure proper fit and those clips are awesome!

Luke: Do you help people a little more this year? LIke go into classrooms and give teachers breaks?

Mrs. R.: I love to be in classrooms, so it’s a treat to get to help even more this year. I usually do 1 or 2 lunch duties per day, because all our classrooms eat as pods either outside or spaced out in their classrooms. Teachers need this time to have 30 minutes of quiet time during their day … although I know that lots of teachers use their lunch times to plan, make copies, update Google Classroom, and lots of other things!

Luke: I know substitute teachers are probably not showing up as much because of the COVID restrictions, so how do you fill the need for teachers when they are out sick?

Mrs. R.: Finding substitute teachers during the pandemic has been a challenge. Luckily, we have been able to hire a building-based substitute with some of our COVID relief funds, and she helps out wherever she is needed most on any given day. We also have a few other substitute teachers that are very reliable and do a great job continuing instruction when classroom teachers have to be out. Mr. Widmer and I cover classrooms if there is a need, and so do others. At CASS we are a team. Everyone pitches in. I feel very fortunate to work with people who are always flexible!

Luke: How have your responsibilities changed this year?

Mrs. R.: Well, the things I need to do haven’t changed, but the way I need to do them has. I meet with folks virtually a great deal now, even when we are both in the same building. I work with families to help them get their children to school, in person or online, and that’s been more of a challenge this year. When I go into classrooms there is a different protocol: I always wash my hands before and sanitize when I leave. I sit or stand further away from students and teachers than I would like, so it’s sometimes harder to see (I should also wear my glasses).

I use technology in the Google Suite and use a document camera to help, too. I also manage 504 plans for students here. Something we are doing is creating individual remote learning plans for students that need accommodations to be able to access remote learning based on an impairment.

Luke: What changes have been done to the school building to make it safer to be in?

Mrs. R.: Each grade level has an access point for the building, making it possible for social distancing at our busiest times of the day. All classrooms operate in pods, including lunch and recess. We have an outdoor classroom and we purchased camp chairs-in-a-bag for each student and staff member, although it’s getting chilly outside! O2 Prime systems have been installed in this building, and all schools in RSU 71, so our air quality and circulation is safe.

Luke: What needs are not being met because of COVID? Are there many families that need more help this year? Explain.

Mrs. R.: Some families do need more help with things like food and warm clothes. We are thankful for donations that allow us to help these families. We also help families get things like hotspots so students have reliable internet access. I see that students want to socialize with friends from last year that aren’t in their pod and that’s hard, because the social structure of school has to be modified for physical safety.

Luke: What is the thing you miss most this year that we can’t do?

Mrs. R.: Hands down, I miss seeing smiles the most. But the laughter is still here!

Reprinted from The COVID Chronicle, a newspaper started by students in Nancy Nickerson's fourth grade class at Capt. Albert W. Stevens School about what it is like to attend school during the pandemic.