Outdoor classrooms offer safety, fresh air

Volunteers attach a canopy while erecting one of St. Vincent School’s three outdoor classrooms this summer in Keokuk.

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

KEOKUK — This summer, former principal Darren MacArthur and a team of volunteers set up three outdoor classrooms for students and teachers at St. Vincent School.

“The idea came about as a pandemic solution,” said Tammy Boyle, school secretary. “The teachers can take their students outside when the weather permits and get fresh air while avoiding the possibility of spreading COVID.”

The simple setup consists of wooden poles and blue canopies. MacArthur set the poles in cement in June, and volunteers — including board members, the school librarian and spouses — attached the canopies to the poles. They constructed two outdoor classrooms in the K-5 area and one in the preschool area. A grant provided funding for the outdoor classrooms.


These classrooms will provide opportunities for educational activities, Boyle said. They will also offer shade to students and teachers who participate in the school’s supervised recess program, which allows students to arrive 30 minutes before school and stay 30 minutes after school, free of charge.

A six-foot fence will be placed around the playground area, which encompasses the outdoor classrooms, “making it safer for our students and teachers to be outside,” Boyle said. A lifelong supporter of Keokuk Catholic Schools and Church of All Saints in Keokuk provided funding for the fencing project, she said.

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