Cumberland Trace Elementary School staff paraded through local neighborhoods Monday, honking, waving and sharing words of encouragement with students who are doing coursework at home amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“We pride ourselves on being a family,” first grade teacher Sara Smith said. “We miss seeing our kids, the kids miss seeing us, and it’s hopefully just going to lift their spirits.”

Smith drove in a line of more than 20 cars through six local neighborhoods as part of the school’s first “wave parade” to cheer on students.

Warren County Public Schools closed its doors March 16 after Gov. Andy Beshear called upon Kentucky school districts to switch to nontraditional instruction in an effort to combat the spread of the virus.

“I think parents are taking this (change) a lot of different ways,” said Ashley Barnes, whose son Brody is in fourth grade at Cumberland Trace.

“So when we can come outside and see our friends, and just see the smiles on their faces, and see the teachers, it’s just done a world of good – not just for the kids, but for us, too.”

Teachers and staff members decorated their cars with tigers, the school mascot, and signs reading “We love our students!” and “We miss you!”

“I miss them” too, Brody said.

“They’re nice, and my mom’s my teacher right now which is not fun,” he said with a grin.

Ashley Barnes, who also works as counselor for the school district, said the transition to home schooling was not easy.

“We’re not teachers ourselves, so having our kids at home all day and doing the school work has been tough,” Barnes said.

“But any time we need anything, we can call or text and (the teachers have) been right there on the spot every time.”

Mary Turner, who works as a WCPS district case manager, and her fourth grade son Grant, joined Ashley and Brody at safe social distances to greet the cars with waves, smiles and their own signs of encouragement such as “We love CTE” and “We love you teachers!”

Mary Turner praised the district’s effort to reach out and maintain contact with the students and their families during the school’s closing.

“For a lot of the kids ... who don’t have consistency in their life, and the school was their consistency, I think seeing those teachers and … (showing them) ‘We haven’t left you, we’re still here, and we still care about you,’ I think that’s huge for a lot of kids, too,” Barnes said.

The afternoon parade brought staff, students and their families together, even if just for a few brief moments.

“Just saying ‘Hey,’ saying ‘Hello’ – it just builds hope and community,” Smith said. “We miss you, we love you and we are here for you.”