Elk Grove Village Catholic school returns to in-person classes with temperature checks, designated groups for students

Online learning will still be an option for families
ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill. (WLS) -- Queen of the Rosary is one of the first Catholic schools in the Chicago-area returning to in-person learning Monday.

"We disinfect in the morning and after they leave," said Donna DiBella, third grade teacher.

That disinfection is now part of a teachers' job at Queen of the Rosary. After being out of school since March, students returned to class for 5-day-a-week in-school learning.

"It's so wonderful to see them, I can't describe how it feels to be in the classroom with the students, even though there are precautions," DiBella said.

Teachers and staff posted a "Welcome back" video on YouTube for students reminding them to always keep their masks on. The school said masks will be required for all staff and students over the age of 2.

Precautions begin with temperature checks before entering a school.

Depending on their grade level, all 245 students enter and leave through a number of different doors. Once inside, hallways have one-way markings. Older classrooms are outfitted with plastic shields, while younger classroom desks are lined up in rows 6 feet apart.

"We are always so used to having small groups and everything you've been taught in the past is out the window," said Principal Kathleen McGinn.

Cardinal Blase Cupich first made the announcement in June, highlighting the plan to keep kids safe.

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"[We will have] enhanced regular cleaning and disinfecting high common areas the use of plexiglass in common and temperature checks on anyone showing symptoms," Cardinal Cupich said.

Teachers are now rethinking ways to give their lessons while making sure everyone follows the safety protocols, especially wearing masks.

"Everyone had their masks on, everyone remembered airplane arms 6ft way, I only had to remind them once or twice that was it," said Debbie Wassenaar, fourth grade teacher.

"It's ok, it did get a little hot once in a while but when she got the fan out it got better," said Riley Albrecht, fifth grade student.

The school's principal and teachers credit parents for preparing their kids before the start of the year.

"My wife and I feel it was important for them to come back with safety precautions and the learning, I feel they do their best learning at school," said Doug Albrecht, parent.

"I'm so excited because now I get to go back to work and they are going to school," said parent Patricia Do. "They are looking forward to it and we are looking forward to it as well."

"Great that they are finally able to get in school, so it's amazing," said parent Daniel McLaughlin.

There are some nerves though.

"A little nervous, but it looks like they have everything prepared well," said parent Nick Mavrakis.

Although many students are anxious to get back to class.

"We have masks, we have social distancing, every teacher has masks, I think it will be a good year this year," said 8th grader Niko Mavrakis.

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Learning at school will last as long as students and staff continue to follow protocols and stay healthy. If parents are not ready to send their kids back, online learning will still be an option for families. About 10 or 11 percent of the school's population chose the e-learning option.

The school told ABC 7 there is also a plan in place if someone in the school contracts COVID-19.

While the first day of school went smoothly here, the principal says if there are any changes to be made it will be slight adjustments to the arrival and dismissal process to make it more efficient.
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