By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — Friday, Nov. 20 dawned a cool, mild fall morning, and Newkirk Elementary School (NES) first and fourth grade students enjoyed their lunch outside thanks to the acquisition a new set of picnic tables which will help the school with better social distancing options during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The school received seven picnic tables, which were installed Thursday, Nov. 19 by Andrew Mayden and Dan White. They were purchased from the American Parks Co. through a Peel Foundation grant, worth $8,300. NES has received much equipment from the Peel Foundation through the years, including iPads, Chromebooks and playground equipment.
The first students to eat at the new tables were the fourth graders.
The expectation is to help spread out the students in the cafeteria on days with nicer weather to help increase social distancing and protect students and staff from COVID-19.
“It allows us to reduce the number of students in the cafeteria at one time; it makes it easier to social distance,” Hunter said. “We have to take precautions if we want to stay in school, because the more the virus spreads, the more we stay in virtual school. Teachers are more effective at their job if they are in-person rather than teach from a distance.”
The school also received a new washer and dryer set as part of the grant, which will be used to wash and sanitize face masks for students, teachers and staff at NES, and school officials ask for masks to be returned to the school so they can be cleaned.
“I feel that we have students that have masks at home. We have sanitizer, Lysol to put in the washing machines to kill the germs,” Hunter said.