FARMINGTON, Minnesota — Stuck at home.
Roughly 800 students at Farmington's Riverview elementary are now being kept out of school.
So, Friday their teachers came to them.
A parade of 40 cars with more than 60 teachers, paraprofessionals and administrators passed by the homes of every student in the school – honking horns and shouting encouragement out their car windows.
“We would rather be in school with them and be with them,” Riverview behavioral specialist A.J. Dubek said.
But if they couldn’t be in school, Dubek and co-workers Emilee Fey and Emily Dessin decided the parade was the next best way to support their students during the COVID-19 restrictions.
They’d talked about holding the parade this week, but hastily moved up their date to Friday, hours before Minnesota’s shelter-in-place restrictions kicked in.
The teachers set out to provide students with a lesson in love, but soon learned they were turning down a two-way street.
“I think we expected to go out there and bring joy to them and we got so much more in return than what we were expecting,” Dessin said.
Fey agreed. "It’s the perfect opportunity to teach our kids that we can do things that are difficult and we can be flexible and we can come out of it stronger," she added.
On signs and on sidewalks throughout the three-hour tour, the teachers were greeted with messages of support and appreciation.
“I had no idea they were going to do that,” Riverview’s principal said.
Kim Grengs merely sent out an email explaining the teachers would be coming, and school families returned the love.
“I really miss my teacher, she’s really nice,” fourth grader Elsa Bonde said.
“I love school, I really miss it,” Elsa second grade brother Bergen said
Kelly Gleonde, the children’s mother, expressed gratitude to Riverview’s teachers. “Just kind of reminded the kids how much their teachers care about them and kind of gave them hope to get through the rest of the school year.”
Renee Schultz, a kindergarten teacher for 29 years, called Friday a top five day.
“The reciprocal feeling of ‘let's care for each other’ really hit me hard,” Schulz said. “I hope when COVID-19 is done, the kids remember, ‘Hey the people in my school care about me and I care about them too.’”
On Monday, schools across Minnesota will start distance learning.
Yet, in some ways Riverview Elementary has never been closer.
“This will remain in my heart forever and I hope the students too,” Schultz said.
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