Tahlequah Public Schools held open houses for all seven sites on August 15, from 4 to 7 p.m., with parents and students mingling and sharing anticipation for the new year.
TPS Superintendent Tanya Jones said the open house was set to run for an extra hour this year as all classes met in one night to help parents who have to pass through multiple school sites.
Kim Parker, a kindergarten teacher at Heritage Elementary, said she loves open houses because she gets to meet all of her new students and their families.
“It’s exciting to have in person and not [through] Expand or [through a] Drive-thru. It’s really exciting to meet their families and have time to talk with them,” Parker said.
Jones said the open house featured elementary and middle school students and their families meeting their teachers and seeing their classrooms for the first time. Middle school students have taken their class schedules home this year. High school students usually receive theirs before the event, but the open house still allows them to meet the staff and see where their classes will meet.
Heritage Elementary principal Amanda Vance says open houses are a great way for students to ease first-day jitters and bond with their teachers, which she says is relevant. for kindergarten students, as most of them have never been to school before.
“With COVID-19 they haven’t been able to come much and now here we are, back to school with everyone here. It’s that first step in communication and the first step in establishing that good relationship between school and home,” Vance said.
While also being able to familiarize themselves with the environment, Open Day attendees were able to complete and receive information on online registration, Boys & Girls Club program, transportation, free school lunch applications and discounted and Title I grant information.
Jones said the open house helps students feel more comfortable entering school because parents will no longer be able to accompany their children to their classrooms. This rule was put in place due to COVID-19 and will continue to be enforced throughout the school year for safety reasons.
“In the morning, if we allowed some parents in, there would be kids without parents and kids with parents, and it gets a bit difficult for the police,” Jones said.
Nate King, an open house attendee and parent at Heritage Elementary, who also happens to be Tahlequah’s police chief, said he was happy this was the first year he and his family had been able to experience a day. post-COVID-19 open house. He thinks the new rule will help children gain independence.
“It’s probably better for the parents than for the kids – actually – that mom and dad meet the teacher and walk down the hall. It’s a great thing, but I think it also helps teach our kids to be independent in the right situations when we’re not walking them down the hall to class every day,” King said.
Tahlequah Public Schools will start school on August 16 with student returns starting at 7:30 a.m.