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A metro Atlanta teacher's journal during the pandemic

11Alive is following Ms. Kelsey Drews' journey through the classroom for the 2021-2022 school year as she navigates through the pandemic.

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Teachers and students continue to navigate through the pandemic each and every day. While some learn from home, others are in the classroom. Both settings have their challenges and can be filled with frustrations.

11Alive is Where Atlanta Speaks and we are taking a close look at how COVID-19 is impacting Georgia students and their educators.

We are following Ms. Kelsey Drews' journey through the classroom for the 2021-2022 school year. Drews is a third grade teacher at Heritage Elementary and was chosen as Fulton County Schools Teacher of the Year after several applications and interviews. 

This is her journal. 

Credit: Kelsey Drews

Aug. 3 - Aug. 6 | Preparing for students

Preplanning was a whirlwind of back to school curriculum planning and meetings. The buzz was palpable as we rushed past each other in the hallways. One day after a virtual meeting we got to meet in the gym and play games in teams. We played giant Uno and completed tasks. It was really nice to work with my coworkers from around the building. Some that I don't interact with daily and haven't seen much since the pandemic started. (Last year we isolated ourselves in our rooms and didn't do a lot of mixing).

Aug. 5 | Heritage Open House

We got to meet our students and their parents for the first time this school year. Third grade had a table outside on the bus ramp where parents were able to walk and drive up. We had a great turn out. It was so exciting to meet new students face to face and not on the computer. Many of us were visited by our former students. I was just so happy to hug my kids and introduce them to their fourth grade teachers. Some of the kids we saw were students we had spent a year on opposite sides of a screen. Parents were really excited. One parent said, "Mrs. Drews I miss seeing you in my living room every day."

Aug. 9 | First Day of School! 

I had 16 on the first day. About half I met at the open house. I have a couple students who are siblings or cousins of former students and that's always fun.

Aug. 10 - Aug. 13 | Dealing with 'laptop issues'

A couple of new students trickling in. Only a few students coming back with working laptops. It's a big job trying to sort out who needs a fix or replacement. Many students who were virtual last year coming back with laptop issues. Several students absent. So far seems parents are being cautious and doing a good job of keeping kids home if they seem sick.

Aug. 16 |  2 new students today

The class is starting to get into the flow of things. This week we are testing students' reading levels and evaluating them on iReady math and reading. Normally when students move from the next grade we have a good sense of where students left off. This year we have a mix of students that haven't had any testing since the 2019 school year. We have some students that haven't attended school since then either. There is a lot of catching up to do.

Aug. 17 | Adding to the class

New student

Aug. 18 | Adding to the class

New student

More coverage on Ms. Drews