Originally published June 9, 2020 by NBC 10 News.
By Sam Read
Two health and physical education teachers from a school in Fall River biked over 140 miles total over a span of eight days to visit with all of their students at a safe distance.
May 6 marked "National Bike to School Day." Since students couldn't do that, the high school PE teachers at Atlantis Charter and the school resource officer decided to go to them.
"We said, 'We need to go visit our students make sure they're socially, emotionally, and physically OK and so we said, 'Let's go take a bike ride and see them'," said Bethany Daniels, one of the two PE teachers.
They teach grades 9 through 12 and said they had been missing them ever since the school closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"We missed them so much and wanted to see them, so we came up with the plan to bike to them," said Daniels. "All of them."
Daniels, and Mello biked to the about 250 homes of their students. It took about 35 hours total, they set out about two days a week.
"It was 140 miles all together," said Daniels. "We broke it up to 8 different days, 4 towns that we road through to visit all of our students."
"I'm always a big believer, I know Bethany is too, to practice what we preach," said Mello. "We didn't just take a car to their house we took the time to be physically active ride our bikes to their house that kind of sent our physical education message."
To make sure things went smoothly, they called Officer Scott Cabral of the Fall River Police Department.
He's been the school's resource officer for two years.
"Scott comes in and checks on us every day at school so to have him with us was like being back at work again,” said Daniels. "It was good to be with co-workers again, like I think as much as we missed our students, we missed our adult co-workers as well."
"I thought it was a great idea very positive thing," said Cabral. "They said they wanted to do it, to go by and check on the kids and the families and I thought that was great, so I said count me in."
Cabral said he missed his students too, so he road along in his car for Daniel and Mello's safety and to say hello.
"I mean going above and beyond they could've got in the car and drove, but they wanted to bike and I thought the kids really liked that," said Cabral. "I've built a report with a lot of the kids I think everyone is kind of ready for everyone to get onto the next step and move forward from this."
The trio broke the journey into six different routes. They stopped at each student's house to visit at a socially-acceptable distance.
"We Broke it up into manageable chunks our longest stretch was Westport about 34 miles and that's because the homes are so spread out," said Mello.
Many of the students snapped photos.
"As soon as you ride up to the house, you see them waiting for you and you get all excited and you're like, 'Oh, my god, you're there, you're in person," said Daniels. "It was nice to be able to see them physically talk to them and know that were still united with them."
"A couple of them made signs. We got water, Powerade, baked goods," said Mello. "It made it all the more better. It kind of reminded us why we got into teaching to see their faces and how excited they were to see us made us ten times more excited."
All involved said they hoped their pedaling for positivity lets them know they'll be there no matter what.
"I think this is a good example of making sure our students are prepared to move forward and do things when we're not right there with them all the time," said Daniels. "It's more than just playing badminton or basketball. It's about making sure they're good when they leave us for the next chapter of their life."