With the ever-present threat of the COVID-19 epidemic looming, Marco Island Academy welcomed students back to the classroom on Wednesday, August 12th. MIA is one of the first schools in the district to bring students back into the classrooms.
Students and faculty alike are wearing face shields as protection. Some took the additional precaution of wearing a mask.
“I felt like it was the first day of our first year here again,” said Principal Melissa Scott. “Because you have the anxiety and the anticipation. You want to make sure that you’re prepared. But this year there’s that extra layer. So, it was with enthusiasm, anticipation and excitement—but it’s expect the unexpected. I don’t think anyone expected to come back with some of these circumstances.
“It’s going well. Kids are kids. That’s the good thing about it. They have been phenomenal. They want to be here, so they’re molding to expectations. Our kids always rise up to meet our expectations—and they surpass them. I would call it normal with some new. You want to get kids back to a normal schedule and a normal structure, but we’re not usually in face masks or face coverings. We call them accessories. We’ve put a lot of safeguards in place.
Marco Academy’s Dean of Students Kevin Ray commented that “We’ve created a traffic flow in the hallways to avoid clogging and to allow the kids the freedom to walk on one side. Hepa purification systems with the UV light are in all the classrooms. We have additional machines in different offices. We also have the hand sanitizers.”
Ray says a lot of the opening day success is because of the students themselves. “A lot of the credit goes to the kids. The buy-in is there. They want to be back. They’re really happy to be back. I’ve had a lot of conversations with the kids today; had some laughs with them. It’s the best attendance for the first day of school that we’ve had in my 4 years here.”
“We’re one of the first schools to go back in the county,” Melissa Scott acknowledged. “We’re different. We’re small. We’re using local businesses for a lot of our supplies. We have a lot of ownership of what we’re doing. The board has been very supportive, too.
“It exciting—and a little nerve-racking,” she continued. “Being the first isn’t always easy. They’ll applaud or criticize. I’m aware of that.”