Birchwood school builds outdoor classroom

The school is building an outdoor classroom in an effort to expose kids to more fresh air during the pandemic.
Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 3:48 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing people to find creative ways to go about everyday activities. For Birchwood Public Montessori, that meant finding a way to take advantage of the fresh air to keep kids as safe as possible from COVID-19.

Teachers and staff at the school are working to build an outdoor classroom, where students can participate in lessons, play and even meals like breakfast and lunch.

“When we heard the virus spread less easily outside and outside is the safest place to be we knew that is where we wanted to be,” says Erin Zemaitis, a teacher at Birchwood Public Montessori.

Fundraising began two weeks ago and the school has since met its $6,500 goal with the help of local businesses and non-profits.

The project consists of two outdoor pavilions that will have desks, tables, boards, a wood working bench and a “mud kitchen” where kids can do hands on learning.

Zemaitis says the classroom is coming together with the help of the community and neighbors like Ron Schobert who has been enlisted to build furniture for the project.

Anne Lawrence, a classroom aid at the school, has been spending about eight hours per day along with her husband, working on constructing the pavilions.

“I am grateful for the community and how fast they came together. We started two weeks ago and we are 90% done,” Lawrence says.

Zemaitis says this project has been a goal of the school’s for quite some time, but with the current pandemic, it felt like a good time to go for it.

“Our goal is to be able to do anything we could do inside the classroom outside,” Zemaitis says.

Though summer weather will not last for long, Zemaitis says they hope to use the outdoor classroom as much as possible, and even plans to invest in rain gear to keep students outside as much as possible.

The classroom is expected to be completed by the first day of school on September 1. The school is still looking for donations to continue funding the project.

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