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At Columbia Elementary School, Assistant Principal Kim Massey, from left, Plant Manager Charles Demichele, Principal Jamie Hill and Assistant Principal Laura Minor sort and package snack foods for delivery to students. CONTRIBUTED

Columbia emphasizes mental health during pandemic

MADISON – Remaining calm and accessible during this time of school closure is a main emphasis for teachers at Columbia Elementary School, according to Principal Jamie Hill.

“Mental health is a huge priority during a time like this,” Hill said.

To support students, Columbia is handing out Wi-Fi hot spots and devices, along with distributing snacks and meals. “Our teachers have been amazing during the initial phase of the closure by practicing appropriate ‘social distancing,’ creating funny faculty videos/slide shows and reaching out to families online and via Zoom,” Hill said.

Columbia teachers also conduct single-car drive-bys with wishes of good health and saying hello. They are writing ‘missing you’ messages using chalk talk at a student’s home.

Several students have emailed Hill with clever ideas on how to hold a fifth-grade celebration for students (oldest class in the school) to wrap up their elementary career.

Hill said the faculty and staff miss their kids so much and are looking forward to reconnecting with them online in a few days.

What are the opinions of Columbia families about the teachers’ efforts? “Our community is just so amazing in offering feedback,” Hill said.

“Yes, our parents and students have sent me emails sharing photos or kind words with how much they love their teacher or miss their Columbia staff member because of an email that was sent or a random act of kindness expressed during a time where positivity is in demand,” Hill said.

“I know I miss everyone so much, and I truly mean that,” he said.

“Human beings demand face-to-face interaction; there’s no question about that. So, during this time of virtual learning, we will become more advanced with the tools that are at our fingertips every day, so that is a positive,” Hill said.

Hill will trust the Madison City School district to guide Columbia, like all other elementary and secondary schools, to return to a usable schedule. School leaders will use an E-learning plan for expectations for all grades that will address lesson planning and how instruction will be delivered.

“I know field trips are cancelled for the school year, so that is not ideal for our students learning experiences, but of the utmost importance to their health, our top priority at this time,” Hill said.

“Above all, families should stay calm and positive during this time of closure, knowing we will all get through this together,” Hill said.

Visit madisoncity.k12.al.us for a FAQ list and a specific plan to ease the anxiety that many parents and children are facing.

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