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Learning Outdoors - Rain or Shine!

Camellia Waldorf School was recently featured on local NBC affiliate, KCRA. We have include the video and write up below.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —Sacramento school is taking a unique approach to the classroom during COVID-19. They are teaching completely outdoors — rain or shine.

Camellia Waldorf School obtained a school waiver from the Sacramento County Public Health Department in September and decided to build makeshift classrooms outside.

“It just feels like the safest way,” said Cindy Stinson with Camellia Waldorf School. “It can get cold. But Sacramento cold is not New York cold. We figured if people could do it in 1918 in New York, we could definitely do it this time of year in Sacramento.”

There are roughly 120 students from preschool through eighth grade. “We do a drive-thru drop-off and screening in the morning, the drop-off is staggered,” Stinson said. “We have three different entry and exit points. We have the kids in cohorts. All the adults wear masks. Second grade through eighth grade wear masks. We practice social distancing. We put six outdoor sinks outside, so we wash our hands regularly.” After distance learning in spring and summer, the school sent a survey to families to understand their needs and comfort level.

“We are a small independent school, but more than half of our families receive some form of tuition assistance,” Stinson explained. “We didn’t have a huge budget to create all these classrooms. So, we really just tried to go practical.”

Stinson said the school came up with four models for families: Outdoor in-person, full-time distance learning, inclusive learning where the teacher instructs both in-person and virtual students, and reverse distance learning, which is when a teacher is at home and instructs virtually to students on campus. “This is where a teacher maybe has a runny nose, and so we won’t allow them to come to school out of an abundance of caution,” Stinson said. “The teacher teaches from home to kids in the classroom. And so, this is how it saved us on subs and bringing in outside people.”

The schools said there have been zero COVID-19 cases.

“The difference in their emotional state is tremendous,” said teacher Shannon Leigh. “Their emotional wellbeing is like — it’s leagues of difference compared to how it was in the spring.”

Stinson said although the school waiver allowed for indoor instruction, Camellia Waldorf plans to continue with outdoor instruction through the end of the 2020-2021 school year. However, when they return from winter break they will start spring semester with two weeks of virtual learning to quarantine.

“It’s maybe a little bit noisier,” Leigh said. “But it’s nice to hear the sounds of happy children around.”


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