SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It was a pre-pandemic scene at the Rebecca Johnson School Monday morning, as the parking lot was packed with family members dropping off students for the first day of in-person learning for elementary children.
“We had a lot of smiles this morning, so we’re really excited to start the day,” Rebecca Johnson School principal, Chris Sutton told 22News. “I am super super excited. It truly feels like the first day of school. We’ve had parents who are dropping off students with smiles, they’re giving their parents hugs, the kids are excited about seeing their teachers.”
Monday was the state deadline for elementary schools to return students to full-time in-person learning. The state approved 39 waivers to allow an incremental approach to return which is what Springfield Public Schools is doing.
“My hope is that kids will get themselves reacclimated to school. We spent over a year with remote learning. The hope is that the kids get comfortable quickly so we can continue their learning,” Sutton continued.
Out of the nearly 800 students enrolled at the Rebecca Johnson School, around 200 to 250 of them returned for the start of hybrid in-person learning today. The teachers returned the week before to prepare for the student’s return.
“Morale is extremely high. They [teachers] shook off the nerves last week and are really getting excited,” Sutton said.
Parents still have the option of keeping their children in remote-learning. Teachers will teach remote and in-person students at the same time but will take turns focusing on both.
“We understand it is the parent’s choice so we want to honor that as well. We want to tell them that we’re going to educate their child whether it’s remote or in-person but we’re just excited to get things rolling,” Sutton told 22News.
At the Rebecca Johnson School, desks will be spaced at least six feet apart and students will stay in the same classroom all day and the teachers will move between classes to reduce crowding in hallways. Almost all meals will be consumed in the classrooms instead of the cafeteria.
Middle Schoolers state-wide are due back by April 28. The state will announce a return date for high schoolers at some point in April and will give school districts at least two weeks to prepare.