Fairfax County Public Schools trades indoor learning for outdoor classrooms


FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WDVM) — After a year of being trapped inside with virtual learning, Fairfax County Public Schools students are trading their indoor classrooms for an outdoor setting. It’s an unconventional type of classroom, with a tent serving as the roof and tree stumps for stools.

“The kids love it, they love being outside, they love the fresh air, they love learning about nature and incorporating nature into how they learn,” said Josh Douds, principal at Centreville Elementary School.

When it came time for students to return to in person learning, the outdoor classroom concept was a perfect solution. It’s in an open air environment, and removes the walls that students faced for a full year during virtual learning.

Centreville Elementary School, as well as five other schools in the district, are part of the pilot program.

“When you’re outside and you’re stationary six feet apart, students can take a mask break. So that fresh air, and getting them focused really helps,” said Douds.

Now, that pilot is expanding to other schools within the district for the fall. Centreville also added 16 additional outdoor classrooms due to the increase in learning students experience from the program.

“I feel that being outside, our student’s engagement has truly increased. They’re communicating with each other, they’re talking to each other more, and you can really see in their faces that they’re excited about learning when they’re outside,” said Diana Lins, Kindergarten teacher at Centreville Elementary.

An additional 60 tents have been purchased to expand the roll out to other schools within the district.

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