PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - A preschool is southeast Portland has ditched the classroom for the outdoors, amid the pandemic.
“We felt outdoor preschool was the best way to make it happen," said Annette Horten, Teacher and Director at Portland Tillamook Cooperative Preschool.
Horetn said safety played a big role in making the decision to move the kids 100 percent outside.
As a Co-op preschool, it's also mainly volunteer-run by the parents, so following all the guidelines to meet inside the building felt daunting.
“We felt it was the safest," said Horten. "Every day we have different cohorts, so we wanted to protect the cohorts by not infecting in the school and we felt that to keep families supported and not overworked, we didn’t want to go through all the cleaning regiment that is required of indoor preschools.”
Rain or shine, Horten said kids and parents have embraced it.
“It seemed kind of out there at first, but we got really excited about it quickly," said parent Katie Hammer. “The kids, if you bundle them and get their rainboots on and have the layers, the vast majority are into it.
Horten said it only cost about $500 to make the transition.
“A fish-scaling sink was a great find, so it just kind of attaches to a hose," said Horten. "The heater is just one that we found, it’s safe, the shell stays cool, so like a bonfire, they can just warm their hands."
"The canopy we bought was a couple hundred dollars, but it was worth it, because we can set it up and we have a couple tables underneath," continued Horten. “And bleach, cleaning supplies and that respect.”
Horten and Hammer said outdoor preschool is going surprisingly well so far.
“Each day we’re out here on a pouring raining day, we end up feeling invigorated, like 'wow, that actually works,'" said Hammer.
“Lots of rain," said Horten. "Lots of sideways rain and wind, but it’s working.”
They said it's proof even weather, can't rain on their parade.
“It means a lot," said Hammer. "You know, my son, he had a regular preschool experience last year and next year he’ll be in kindergarten, so I think if we had nothing to do this year, or just stayed home, it would feel like a real loss for him.”