AME staff preps for back-to-school 2020-21

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AME fourth-grader Lily Plummer and her brother, Luke, a kindergartner, shop for school supplies Aug. 5 at Target in Bradenton. “Luke is so happy to be attending big kid school with his sister Lily and both students want to be back in the classroom learning with friends,” said mom Nicole Plummer, an AME PTO officer. Islander Courtesy Photo
Desks at AME are equipped with plastic shields to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. AME purchased 200 desk shields to provide protection and enhance social distancing. Islander Photo: Courtesy Sheila Zinks
Second-grade teacher Pamela Buff works in her classroom Aug. 6, preparing for the first day of school at AME, 4700 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Courtesy AME

Don’t forget the pencils, pens, paper and face masks.

It’s back to school we go.

Anna Maria Elementary principal Jackie Featherston unveiled a heavily revised back-to-school plan to “reduce the impact of COVID-19 conditions upon returning to the district.”

Back-to-school night for 2020-21 will be a virtual event Thursday, Aug. 13, for 195 kindergarten through fifth-grade AME students, a number slightly lower than the 2019-20 enrollment.

The evening will include a video tour of AME, a message from Featherston, as well as teachers showing their classrooms and sharing information with parents and students.

For the new school year, the district offered three options for AME students: on-site learning, distance learning and a hybrid of the two.

Enrollment figures show 46 AME students as full-time e-learners and 149 students attending in-person classes.

What will school be like for AME students who return to their classrooms Monday, Aug. 17?

The front doors will open to students — who must wear face masks — at 7:55 a.m.

The school will maintain social distancing on the outdoor benches and at breakfast in the cafeteria until 8:10 a.m.

There will be a “quiet zone” outside classrooms, where students can read while maintaining social distancing on one side of the hallway.

The school will issue students and staff two washable masks that meet U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, and disposable masks will be provided as needed.

Classroom desks and tables will be sanitized daily, as will doorknobs, handles and other touch surfaces.

Also, foot-traffic in hallways will be one-way.

At 8:25 a.m., students will enter classrooms to start the school day and dismissal will be 3:15 p.m.

Students will return home by bus, car or bike, or they can walk or transfer to day care.

There will be no cafeteria pick up.

AME kindergarten teacher Kelly Crawford said she would begin the 2020-21 school year with 23 students, including five enrolled in e-learning.

“A big advantage for AME students is that our school is small, but we have a big, beautiful campus and several areas that can be used for outdoor classrooms, which helps to have limited exposure to others and we are fortunate to have desk partitions for every single student, which is not the case for (all) schools,” Crawford said Aug. 6.

She confirmed that face masks would be required during outside instruction, with exceptions for P.E. and recess.

AME Parent-Teacher Organization co-secretary Nicole Plummer has a son entering Crawford’s kindergarten class for in-person instruction.

“This year will be different for sure, as there will be no boo-hoo breakfast the first day of school for kindergarten parents,” Plummer wrote Aug. 5 in an email to The Islander.

The school purchased plastic desk shields to help against the spread of the coronavirus. The guards can be moved within a classroom and the lunchroom, if necessary.

Hand-washing or sanitizing exercises will be scheduled for each classroom hourly, between subjects and when materials change.

Additionally, staff will sanitize art and STEM classrooms between student rotations and students will bring their supplies to the art room.

P.E. will involve activities and games that allow 6 feet of separation between kids and staff.

“We will not be able to have any of our traditional festival or group events until all restrictions are lifted,” Featherston said. Therefore, the school will not stage grade-level performances in the auditorium or PTO-sponsored dinners in the cafeteria.

Public health experts agree that one measure to keep coronavirus out of schools is limiting the number of visitors. So AME will not allow visitation or volunteers on campus until authorized by the school district.

The school advisory council and PTO are planning to conduct virtual meetings and events, and visitors to the office must schedule appointments, as well as wear a mask.

Parents cannot bring food to AME or host classroom parties or birthday celebrations.

Parent and staff communication will be by phone, student planner, virtual meeting or the Remind app.

The school Facebook page and website,, will be routinely updated with new procedures and changes to the guidelines.

Anna Maria Elementary is at 4700 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

For more information, call 941-778-5525.