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Utah school creates outdoor classrooms

Posted at 7:47 PM, Aug 14, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — As concerns about schools reopening continue, the Salt Lake City School District is trying to find some middle ground.

At the Salt Lake Center for Science Education, teachers say the safest spot for kids to learn on campus — and social distance — is outdoors.

"Our school has long been a leader in outdoor education in general. We have a really good outdoor ed program and it’s very supportive of doing things outside," said Shea Wickelson, a teacher at the school.

Teachers have selected 10 spots on campus where there’s plenty of shade and room to practice social distancing, as well as wifi access.

"We have a little bag of materials that go with each of the sites, and it’s pretty low overhead," Wickelson said. "We’re just using the materials that are within our building anyway."

There are also outdoor classrooms at Bryant Middle School and Whittier Elementary.

Wickelson believes they have created a template that other schools can put into action.

"It’s certainly the safest place for teachers and our students to be right now," she said. "That’s going to be a really good enriching space anyway, and so we’re hoping that this is something sort of positive that we can create out of tough times."

Recent graduate Bella Lonardo was happy to help out.

Her senior year didn’t end the way she had hoped, and she wants to make sure incoming students can adjust to any learning environment.

"Just hang in there. It’s not permanent. It’s going to take time," Lonardo said. "Just figure out places you can study, ways that you can escape, and then give yourself a break every once in a while because it is rough."

Wickelsen hopes to fill up these classrooms as soon as possible before remote learning begins on Sept. 8.