BUENA VISTA, Ga. (WTVM) - The Marion County School District is staggering the number of students who return to the classrooms for in-person learning by grade levels.
Wednesday, grades kindergarten through second grade started back up and all things seem to be running smoothly so far, according to Dr. Leigh Medders Principal, of L.K. Moss Elementary School.
“You just want to get your hands on them and hug them, but in the era we now live in, we have to do air hugs," Medders said. "We are just happy to have them in the building again.”
Medders said it’s been a challenge for both educators and students to adapt to a new normal of in-person learning.
For the first time in six months, grades kindergarten through second saw the inside of a classroom along with their beloved teachers and fellow peers, but under an abundance of changes.
“We are taking temperatures when they come into the classrooms. We are also doing all our faculty and staff that way as well. We also moved our nurse’s station and gave her a larger room this year so that if there is a child that is sick, we can social distance,” said Medders.
According to the Marion County School District, the reason why certain grades will have their start dates staggered is to slowly re-acclimate the school’s population to mitigate COVID-19.
Grades third through seventh will return Monday, and eighth and ninth on Wednesday. The district has yet to release when the tenth through twelfth grade will return.
Courtney Powell is the parent of a student within the district. She said even though she had the option of choosing virtual learning, she thinks it’s necessary for students to get back in the classrooms.
“I worry about their intellectual, mental, and all those factors that are going to be compromised if they don’t get back into school," Powell said. "This is a critical time in their lives and they need that normalcy back.”
Powell said although she is happy to see that normalcy returning for her student, she wonders how the district plans to handle a COVID-19 outbreak scenario.
“Like right now, I think they said they will have to close down if that happens, and juggling kids around like that is not good,” Powell said.
According to the district’s superintendent, Glenn Tidewell, in the event a student or teacher has COVID-19, they will use contact tracing to identify who was exposed. Those persons exposed to the positive cases would then quarantine for two weeks.
Some other changes to note as other grades plan to return include masks being recommended to each grade level but are only required on school buses. Students at every grade level are also required to social distance from one another.