The past year and a half of dealing with COVID-19 has been tough on everyone. Teachers’ jobs in particular were turned upside down.

“It was really hard to be able to make sure we were getting those connections with them,” says Theresa Eckler, a fourth grade teacher at Rensselaer Park Elementary School. “It was a very long year of … changes and having to get really creative on what we were doing with the students.”

This fall should be the start of the first full year of in person classes at Rensselaer Park Elementary since the start of the pandemic.

“I’m so excited just to have them in person and be able to feel their energy; get back to kind of life as normal,” Eckler said.

Some things will still be “COVID-friendly”, especially since Eckler’s students are too young to get the vaccine. She has virtual reality headsets for field trips; desks are spaced out; masks will be worn; and for the most part, students will stick to their own supplies.

“I’m a little concerned about procedures might look like if kids have to quarantine … and what that might look like if we have students that are in person, but then also remote on the computer again,” Eckler said.

The biggest lesson Eckler said she learned from the pandemic is how flexible teachers are.

“Teachers can literally on a moment’s notice change their plans, and adapt, and basically do whatever it takes to make sure kids are learning and having fun learning,” she said.