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Mt. Pleasant school sets up tents for outdoor classroom space

Updated: Oct. 13, 2020 at 7:29 PM EDT
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MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCSC) - The University School of the Lowcountry in Mount Pleasant is spending thousands of dollars a month renting out a tent for outdoor classroom space.

The private school on Coleman Blvd. serves about 100 students from the third grade through high school, and Head of School Jason Kreutner said they’re able to have more of them in person because of this option.

“We have some students and teachers who remote isn’t great for and for valid reasons don’t feel safe inside a building," Kreutner said. "The tents make an incredible middle ground. It’s safer, you’re still in person, and you can connect with people.”

Kreutner said they have spent “five figures” on buying new tents and expect to use them for the next “15 to 18 months" as it remains unclear when the pandemic will end. Those tents are set to arrive and be set up soon.

Sara Peck is an English teacher at the school who didn’t feel safe returning to a classroom inside the building but returned now that she has the option of teaching outside.

“It was important to me that I was able to teach in person," Peck said. "I have 15 plus kids in all of my classes, and if I was inside I could have four people in a classroom. Outside, I can see everyone at once and be really safe.”

The ability to teach outside has also allowed remote students to return like fourth grader Oliver Ivan.

“It’s really fun," Ivan said. “We can come, and I feel really safe doing it. We’re six feet apart and learning outside is a lot better than learning inside. It’s a lot safer.”

Some classes, for teachers and students who feel comfortable doing so, still happen inside the building. In those instances, masks must be worn at all times and can only be removed when students are able to social distance outside.

In order to set up this operation, the school had to get approval from the town which in turn had to get approval from the state. After some confusion over state law, they got their permit.

“Other schools might not even know this is an available idea or available option, and that’s a failure of leadership,” Kreutner said.

He’s now pushing the governor and lawmakers to make this an affordable option for all schools.

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