Persistent COVID continues to prevent return of elementary buddy program

Elementary schools in the Cedar Falls district have always paired up the sixth graders and kindergarteners for “buddies,” where every once in a while the sixth graders meet up with their kindergarten buddies to partake in activities such as reading, coloring, chalk, etc. 

However, after COVID, buddies was canceled because with the guidelines for mitigation measures, the district focused strongly on not mixing the students with different grade levels. 

Buddies has been a tradition at the elementary schools for years. It’s something sixth grade students look forward to and take pride in, and there are other upsides, as well.

Orchard Hill Elementary Principal Andrea Christopher said, “I think having buddies helps our school feel more like a family and a community. Kinder students have someone to look up to, and sixth graders take a sense of pride taking care of a younger student.” 

With the COVID delay, the students can also miss out on academic learning opportunities. Buddies does not just work on relationship skills, but also work on social skills, foundation reading skills and number sense. 

Just being able to hang out with a buddy makes the learning much more fun for the students. Though students and teachers both miss it at the elementaries, Christopher said, “I believe buddies will return as soon as it is safe to do so. We really miss it at Orchard Hill.

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