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Clarkdale-Jerome School to open doors Sept. 14

Clarkdale-Jerome third grade teacher Andrea Clark prepares her classroom for Sept. 14, the district's first day of in-class education. Clark said Wednesday that flexibility is key to being a teacher. VVN/Bill Helm

Clarkdale-Jerome third grade teacher Andrea Clark prepares her classroom for Sept. 14, the district's first day of in-class education. Clark said Wednesday that flexibility is key to being a teacher. VVN/Bill Helm

CLARKDALE - Tuesday, the Clarkdale-Jerome School Board voted 5-to-0 to open its school to on-site learning on Sept. 14.

According to Clarkdale-Jerome Superintendent Danny Brown, the district has been preparing to open its doors for the past four-plus weeks. Because the county’s COVID-19 metrics the past few weeks have been what Brown called encouraging, he felt comfortable recommending the board open on Monday.

Clarkdale-Jerome, a K-8 school district, will continue to offer online education for students who are not ready to return to campus, Brown also said.

"I'd like to call upon families and community members in the Verde Valley to continue with the Return to Learn mitigation strategies in place, such as social distancing, face coverings so that the metrics can continue to improve and so we can continue to hold school face-to-face," Brown said.

Wednesday morning, Clarkdale-Jerome teachers continued to prepare classrooms for the first day of in-person learning. Second grade teacher Jennifer Shilling said that she's ready to meet her children face-to-face.

"They're ready," Shilling said. "They're tickled."

Clarkdale-Jerome children have been in school - online - since Aug. 10. However, it's not the same as learning in one room, Shilling said.

"I feed off the kids," Shilling said. "Once I saw them on Zoom, it brought back to me why I'm teaching. It instantly energized me."

Andrea Clark teaches third grade at Clarkdale-Jerome. Clark said Wednesday that she learned early in her career that being adaptable was key to being a teacher.

"Since the pandemic, we've had to learn to teach in a new way," Clark said. "Daily changes since March. Flexibility has been huge."

Fourth grade teacher Kim Densmore said that the pandemic has taught her the importance of relying on her fellow Clarkdale-Jerome educators.

"This has amplified teamwork on all levels," Densmore said. "Everyday is a gift."

Of the district's roughly 450 students, Brown said Wednesday that about 80% of the students are expected to return to campus.

But those numbers can change at any time, Brown said.

"It's a case-by-case basis for each of our families," Brown said. "We'll make those accommodations accordingly."

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