KEIZER, OR (KPTV) - This school year, amid a pandemic, FOX 12 will regularly go inside Keizer Elementary to share the stories of teachers, staff and students firsthand, in a series called "Keizer Strong."
FOX 12 most recently spoke with a behavior specialist there to hear what her job has been like during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Annie Stroup is a behavior specialist at Keizer Elementary. A big part of her job means showing kids how to manage their emotions.
“Pre-COVID, it’s a lot of working with students, who maybe just need a little extra support to engage in class and to help them regulate in class, working with teachers to develop behavior plans for those students," said Stroup. “For some kids it’s really hard to sit in class and helping to find ways to help them when they need to be removed from class and find a break spot.”
Post-COVID, Stroup said she's finding any way she can to build connections with kids and support them when they need it.
"And what I’ve been doing is when there is a student that needs a check in, just popping into their class when it’s a good time for them and their teacher can put us in a break out room and we can go chat for a few minutes," said Stroup. "So, it’s still happening, but it’s not as frequent as it would be here in the building.”
But she's hoping that frequency increases once kids start heading back inside the classroom early next week.
“I think when they do come back, we’re going to see a lot of reduced stamina for classroom time and for learning, just because it’s been so long since they’ve been here in the building," said Stroup. "So, it’s going to be a lot of providing breaks to prevent those difficulties.”
Stroup said those breaks sometimes mean visiting what's called a sensory classroom. The room is designed to help kids regroup by offering sensory support, like low lighting and calming music and activities.
Stroup said she's currently working on turning two rooms at Keizer into a sensory classroom, instead of the usual one.
“Because, I think we’re going to have more students that need to access that than typically we would," said Stroup.