MERRILL, Wis. (WAOW) — Trinity Lutheran School in Merrill closed its doors last year, like many other schools across Wisconsin during the height of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Upon reopening in September of 2020, the school has been able to offer in-person instruction to over 150 students, and an alternative virtual learning environment to about a dozen more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted safety measures and protocols in schools across the nation and in Wisconsin, like temperature checks
Trinity Lutheran recently implemented a drive-thru celebrity temperature check drop off method to add an element of excitement to the protocol.
"Celebrities," or recognizable figures in the Merrill community so far have included the likes of Fire Pup, local police and fire officials, school alumni, local cheerleaders, and even the Merrill High School Blue Jay.
The purpose is to make sure students are coming to school healthy, in addition to maintaining engagement and motivation while coming to a physical classroom setting.
Not only that, but it also gives the students something to look forward to first thing in the morning, making a safety protocol fun instead of dreadful, while boosting motivation and performance throughout the day.
Trinity Lutheran School Administrator Kathy Yahr said unlike other schools across the state, TLS has been able to remain open in a physical setting without any issues since reopening in September.
"We actually have never had a child test a high temperature and have to be sent home from the car line," Yahr said. "So, we know that parents are keeping sick children home and reducing the spread of any kind of illness this year. We actually have a lower absentee rate than we've had before."
Student temperatures must be under 100 degrees for access into the building.
Yahr went on to say she's noticed how beneficial a healthy in-person environment has been for student's social and academic development, especially when there's a teacher present.
"We've noticed with students who are participating virtually that some are very successful at it and others really struggle with it much more," Yahr said. "At school a teacher can see when a child is struggling with something, whether it's academically or emotional andcan respond to that immediately."
The surprise temperature checks in the morning also serve as a segue to help encourage students to remember other COVID-19 defense measures like social distancing, wearing masks, and adjusting to separation glass at desks within the classrooms.