Elmonica Elementary students gathered on the sidewalk in front of the King Courts apartments in Beaverton on Sunday, waiting for a glimpse of their teachers.

4th grader Marielle was one of them. She wrote “Hello teachers” on a small whiteboard.

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“I miss school,” Marielle said.

Elmonica counselor Alexis Mason rides past her students during a parade Sunday.

Elmonica counselor Alexis Mason rides past her students during a parade Sunday.

Elizabeth Miller/OPB

As Oregon schools make the shift to online learning, the Oregon Department of Education says maintaining teacher and student relationships is key.

Related: As Oregon Schools Roll Out Distance Learning, Some Students May Be Left Behind

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Most of that teacher-student communication will move online now that schools are closed. But before that begins, a group of staff at Elmonica Elementary in Beaverton convened, while maintaining social distancing guidelines, for a parade around the school’s neighborhood.

“So much of elementary school is about connections with students and our relationships with students,” said Elmonica counselor Kristine Kenyon. “We just really wanted them to know we’re still there for them even though we’re not in school.”

Teachers attached signs to their cars and honked their horns as they passed students. Children and pets popped out of the windows, too, as students and parents waved.

Elmonica counselor Alexis Mason was happy with how the event went but knows the change to distance learning will still be a difficult transition for everyone involved, including staff.

A family waves at a teacher driving by during a parade for Elmonica Elementary families.

A family waves at a teacher driving by during a parade for Elmonica Elementary families.

Elizabeth Miller/OPB

“The hardest part for me has been hearing from staff how much they’re missing their students,” Mason said. “That’s really why we wanted to do this – was to give staff an opportunity to see the students they love so much.”

Like other school districts, Beaverton will soon shift from offering supplemental resources to a more structured distance-learning plan, where attendance and grades may be expected. The state asks districts to have their remote learning plans in place by April 13.

This week, Beaverton teachers will facilitate learning for students and provide feedback, but students are not yet required to participate. Teachers will also continue reaching out to families.

“We’re here for them no matter how far apart they are,” Mason said. “We’re always available and all they need to do is just reach out.”

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