OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM) - For students at Opelika City Schools, Wednesday marked the first day in over five months being back inside school buildings.
Students roamed the halls and made use of the once empty classrooms, but under a slew of precautions.
Parents like Shirley Collins-Jones said she is thrilled to send her 11th-grade son back into the classroom so she can get back to a normal working routine.
“I’m very happy,” she said. “I’m very happy because half of the kids who go to school, some learn better in school than at home. So, with me being a working parent, I’d rather my son be at school because I can’t be at home making sure he is virtual.”
Opelika Superintendent Dr. Mark Neighbors paid a visit to every school within the district Wednesday morning and said everything is off to a great start.
“I was at Carver first this morning and there were about 10 little children with their masks on and their book bags,” he said. “They were looking through the door and they were so excited. Teachers are also excited. It has just been a great day.”
Neighbors said he expects to meet some challenges as the school year continues, such as students possibly contracting COVID-19, but they have plans in place.
“If we did have a positive, just those students who were exposed within six feet of that positive individual for 15 minutes or more would have to be quarantined, not the whole classroom,” he said.
All students and faculty are required to wear masks and social distance when possible, but to make sure the school year can maintain face-to-face learning, Neighbors said parents need to do their part too.
“If parents have a sick child, whether they are symptomatic for COVID or not, please keep them home,” he said. “Particularly, if they have a cough or fever. We have a code for that, so it is not an unexcused absence.”