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Teachers at local elementary school share special message with students during COVID-19

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Teachers at Farnsworth Elementary in Rigby sit on the bleachers next to cards with their student’s names on them. | Photo courtesy Farnsworth Elementary

RIGBY – As the COVID-19 shutdown continues, the staff at a local elementary school have a special message for their students.

Teachers at Farnsworth Elementary in Rigby posted a video on Facebook Monday night. In the video, teachers can be seen sitting on bleachers in the school gymnasium next to pieces of paper with their student’s names on them. Fifth-grader Maylee T. is heard singing “One Little Candle” accompanied on the piano by one of the teachers.

“Students, you are the light here at Farnsworth. How much you shine through to all of us here,” Farnsworth Elementary Principal Jeanette Hollis says in the video. “We all miss you. We all miss your bright lights, and we want you to continue to shine your bright lights all the way through this break that we have and beyond.”

Hollis says they felt inspired to make the video after teachers expressed how much they missed seeing the kids every day. It was a team effort that continued to evolve as teachers contributed their own ideas.

“We wanted it to look like we were having a school assembly,” Hollis tells EastIdahoNews.com. “The whole video was teacher-directed.”

How online learning is going in the district

After several weeks of online learning, Hollis says there have been some minor hiccups with technology, but overall things have been going great.

“I was in contact with my students all day on Schoology (one of several platforms the school is using to teach students online),” one teacher wrote Hollis in an email. “I told them how strong and inspiring they were and her response was ‘the word that comes to mind is fun!'”

Teachers are also using Zoom to maintain face-to-face contact.

One of the biggest challenges during the pandemic, Hollis says, is making sure many students have enough to eat. She says there are many families that rely on the school’s free breakfast and lunch program. The school district has designated certain locations where these families can go and pick up their meals.

For students who aren’t able to get out, Hollis and many of the teachers and bus drivers are personally delivering those meals to student’s homes.

“Parents might not necessarily be at home with them during the day to get the free meals. So my secretaries and I have hand-delivered over 50 lunches a day the week before our spring break started,” Hollis says. “After we saw the impact of that, our district has now added another location (closer to these homes) so kids can easily walk there and pick it up on their own.”

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A report from the Idaho Statesman Monday indicated the state board of education approved a plan to physically close schools for the rest of the year but left it open for local school districts to make the best decision for their area.

Hollis says they will continue to do online learning until further notice, but when school will end has yet to be determined.

“All of us hope and wish that we’re able to come back before the end of the school year, but that’s a decision the board will be making down the road based on their discussions with the health department,” she says.

Meanwhile, Hollis is encouraging students to continue to share their light during the pandemic and beyond.

“Students, let your light shine to those around you. We miss your light at Farnsworth. Each of you are represented in the bleachers with your teachers,” Hollis wrote on Facebook. “Thank you to…the teachers for showing just how much (students) are loved and missed at Farnsworth.”

Watch the message in the Facebook video above.

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