Kids visit Santa Ynez campus for socially distanced trick-or-treating
In a frenzy of costumes, decorations, music and a lot of Halloween spirit, students of Santa Ynez Elementary trick-or-treated on campus and saw their teachers face-to-face for the first time in a long time.
After hearing that the Cold Spring School District got a costume parade and trick-or-treating approved, teachers, staff and the administration of Santa Ynez Elementary School hopped on the opportunity to throw a Halloween celebration together for their students.
Friday afternoon, students from kindergarten through eighth grade donned their Halloween costumes and came to campus in their respective time slots, with 20 minutes for each grade.
When students and their parents arrived, they received temperature checks, walked through the quad hallways of campus and met each teacher at their doorways. Soon after the first time slot, skeletons, witches, princesses, sports players and superheroes were buzzing around campus, socially distanced.
Their teachers, also dressed up, slid small, pre-packaged treats down 6.5-foot long chutes made from PVP piping.
“I’ve never seen kids so excited to be back in a school environment,” Maurene Donner, the principal/superintendent, said. “We thought this would be a great opportunity for kids to get dressed up, have a little bit of normalcy and just feel like they’re kids again.”
She said that while her students have been “resilient and adaptive” to online learning, connectivity issues and lack of assistance at home have made it challenging.
However, small cohorts of students have started to return to in-person learning, and Monday will be day one back to school for kindergarten through third grade, with a noon dismissal five days a week.
Ms. Donner said she hopes to have better student success as they return in person.
“Seeing the liveliness of children back on campus and feeling success … Yes, they’ll be in individual cohorts, but at least you hear kids playing, laughing and just having some fun back on campus,” the principal told the News-Press. “All the staff really embraced having the kids back. I couldn’t do it without them.”
The joy and excitement radiating from the staff was indeed apparent. Teachers didn’t hold back on dressing up, and students saw them as everything from a taco to a penguin to a kangaroo.
“I know this is a hard time for the students,” Rebecca Reno, the school psychologist dressed up as a witch, told the News-Press. “We like to bring them a little joy and a little fun because right now is the time to concentrate on not academics, but having a good time.
“I’m a school psychologist so I know what this is doing to their mental health. This is very important that they have normalcy as much as we can give them.”
While masks covered up the smiles of the students, parents and teachers, the sound of laughter came through.
“Most of the Halloween festivities countywide have been canceled, and most families won’t be trick-or-treating,” Anthony Bruemmer, a fourth-grade teacher dressed up as Batman, told the News-Press. “It’s just a great opportunity for kids to be kids, to get to dress up and wear their costumes and enjoy their childhood through these crazy times.”
He said staff members showed up early on Friday, dressed up and ready to see their students.
“This is going to help raise spirits in the kids and give them something to look forward to, see other friends and have a fun Halloween celebration and experience a little bit of normalcy for just one afternoon,” Mr. Bruemmer added.
“We’re lucky we’re a small school district — we’re just excited to see all the kids on campus and see a lot of smiles.”