Saskatoon preschool teacher takes classroom to driveways, garages during COVID-19

A measuring tape marks out three meters and bright cones provide a visual barrier.

Preschool teacher Uli Hecker has found a way to follow public health orders for COVID-19 while safely connecting face to face with her young students from Hansel and Gretel Preschool in Saskatoon.

“Face time without touching,” said Hecker, who admits it hasn’t been easy not being able to hug her students.

However, the home visits are her attempt to re-establish a bit of routine for the little ones who have trouble understanding why they can’t go to school and see their friends.

“I set up storytime, we sing songs, review letters and numbers and do fun things,” Hecker said. “I’m literally doing things that I would’ve done in our classroom. For instance, I am bringing my color chart. We go over the colors and they sing their color song.”

Uli Hecker holds storytime for students outside their home. (Hansel and Gretel Preschool/Facebook)

Last week her mobile classroom was set up outside, but the recent cold, snowy weather forced lessons to move into garages.

Although she gets face time with her students, there isn’t any physical contact. She even brings her own chair to protect herself.

She wasn’t sure how well the idea would be received when she sent the email to parents.

“It was an overwhelmingly positive and excited response from almost all the parents,” Hecker said.

“I’m doing this now almost every day and it is not only the kids that join me, but it’s also usually the whole family. Everyone is happy and excited to get a break, and getting some distraction.”

On Monday, teachers began rolling out lesson plans and virtual resources to parents to keep the learning going until schools can reopen.

Hecker said her home visits don’t fall under that mandate, adding she is doing this on her own accord.

“I can tell I’m filling children’s buckets, I’m filling parents’ buckets and I’m also filling my own bucket,” she said. “I truly miss teaching and I miss seeing my kids.”

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