When Mary Schulz returned to her classroom after months of relying on online learning due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Rockwell, Iowa, teacher said she could tell her students were missing the in-person interaction.
"We're so used to when they come see us in the morning and we greet them at the door, we're always giving hugs or high fives or a handshake," Schulz told "Good Morning America." "That's been our thing."
"When we came back, we hadn't seen each other in so long and [the students] just wanted to reach out, you could see it," she said of having to wear face masks and stay socially distanced amid the pandemic. "It was just kind of awkward."
After one week of school, Schulz came up with a solution.
She tasked each of her 20 third-grade students with a weekend homework assignment of coming up with a socially distanced greeting they could do with Schulz each day at the front door of the classroom.
Each day since then, Schulz, a 30-year teaching veteran, has welcomed each of her students to school with their personalized greeting.
"I do see a connection now," said Schultz. "If I'm not at that door in the morning, they stand and wait for me."
The kids' hellos range from a more quiet wave, to a ballerina's curtsy to the Iowa State University chant, according to Schulz.
Even kids who are not in Schulz's homeroom have choreographed their own greetings to do with her each morning.
"We're just trying to have some normalcy with some fun things," she said. "It's brought me joy too."
Schulz added of her now-viral video, "Something that I thought was pretty simple has really amazed me in how it's reached all over the world and brought joy to so many people. Right now, I think that's what we need."
Editor's note: This was originally published on Nov. 17, 2020.