WELCH, WV (WVNS) – Students in McDowell County are heading for the exits… But in a good way.

McDowell County Schools are close to completing the county’s first outdoor classrooms.

Assistant Superintendent Amanda Peyton said the school board was sold on the idea after reading a Harvard study that concluded students actually learn better outdoors. However, it wasn’t until the district received stimulus funds last year that they were able to start taking steps to make the outdoor classrooms a reality.

“We received about 34 million dollars in stimulus funding,” Peyton explained. “And with that we had to think out of the box and how we could provide classroom settings that were engaging, that provided fresh air quality, and provided students and teachers and families a safe place to meet.”

Peyton said the goal is to have teachers use the outdoor classrooms every day, starting as early as next month. They’ve spared no expense to make sure teachers can do everything in the outdoor classrooms that they do when they’re inside.

“We actually will have dry erase boards that are durable, that can withstand the weather that will be put up in every outdoor classroom. We’ll have amphitheater seating so some students can sit up taller than the others. We also have purchased the durable, weather resistant tables so that they can be there in the weather under the staged structure,” Peyton told 59 News

“So there’s really nothing that they have to do differently, other than plan engaging lessons and just take them outside,” said Peyton.

Besides fresh air and sunlight, one thing Peyton said McDowell County students and teachers are very much looking forward to about the outdoor classrooms is being able to take their masks off.

“Getting that fresh air. Being able just to take it down and breathe and be able to socially distance,” said Peyton. “It’s been proven that students have better behavior when they’re outside learning. They have better social interactions. So we can see that the outdoor classroom will help with the whole child. Not just academics.”

As of now, construction is underway for outdoor classrooms at five McDowell County Schools. Peyton hopes there’s more on the way.