As the weather warms, tents start going up for outdoor classrooms

Published: Apr. 9, 2021 at 2:19 PM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - This week, the Rutland City public schools are putting their tents up to use as outdoor classrooms.

“It’s so beautiful!” said Sawyer Ellison, a kindergartener.

Students at Northwest Primary School are using some outdoor preexisting and COVID-era-created classroom spaces.

Bringing more classes back outside is something Ellison finds fun.

“Probably like doing all that we can do in the tent and not worrying about the other kids in recess,” Ellison said.

“The kids enjoyed being outside, so bringing it in for the winter was a bit hard for them because they only got their one recess of the day,” said Diane Nelson, who teaches first grade.

“You get to learn in a funner way,” second-grader Talen Etcheson said.

One of Etcheson’s favorite outdoor classes is music.

“Really fun to be in the tents and be outside and not to be inside all the time,” Etcheson said.

Based on the state’s guidance, singing and playing some instruments were not allowed inside. Being outside makes it safer.

“We’re able to space out and we can get really loud with our instruments,” Music Teacher Mary Homan said.

The tents are used for other classes, too.

“I do think the quality of the writing students produce outside is better,” said Gail Campopiano, a second-grade teacher.

Campopiano says being outside makes students more aware of sensory elements. It also gets them away from computers, fluorescent lights and background noise you get inside the school building.

“A lot of city houses don’t have a big yard, just by the nature of a city, so it’s nice that they can have this space,” Campopiano said.

The librarian also held class in the tent this past fall.

“It was so cool! She brings the books outside,” said Loralei Ploof, a second-grader.

Kids agree they’re excited to get back outside and for the temperatures to climb.

“Kind of, it’s a little chilly out,” first-grader Madelyn Stygles said with a laugh.

Rutland City Public Schools have vacation the week of April 12, but the principal of Northwest Primary School says she expects classes to be consistently out here the following week.

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