RUSSELL COUNTY., Ala. (WTVM) - Teachers, administrators, and students in Russell County are gearing up for the first day of in-person classes this year after the first month was fully virtual.
“Welcome back,” fifth grade teacher Bryan Larson said. “Just welcome back.”
Dixie Elementary School, like other Russell County schools, will welcome students for in-person learning Thursday, Sept. 10.
“We have a lot of students that are coming face-to-face," Principal Paula Thompson said. “We have about 65 percent of our population that will be back, and we are excited to finally put our eyes on our babies and get to know those ones that are new.”
Thompson said they’ve been planning tirelessly for the students' return and are ready to hit the ground running.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and Russell County Schools' reopening plan will be guiding their path, just as the new blue dots on the hallway floors will guide the elementary students and remind them to social distance.
“We’ve got seating charts,” Thompson said. “We’ve got our classes set up where the kids are spread apart. They’re sanitizing, and they’re hand washing. There’s hand washing posters up in the bathrooms. We’re going to make sure they know how to wear their masks.”
With a bottle of hand sanitizer at his door, Larson said he’s excited to see his students.
“For the most part, tomorrow will be the first time that I”ll meet them in person," he said.
He said having these kids back in the classroom will come with some challenges.
“We’ve already had a month of instruction but no face-to-face time,” Larson said. “So, now I’ve got to teach them how to be in the classroom and the classroom rules, even though we’re already a chapter and a half into our books.”
Despite the challenges, Larson and Thompson said they can’t wait to open those school doors Thursday morning.
“I’m excited,” Larson said. “I’m real excited to get the students here.”
“We’re excited to welcome them with open arms,” she said.
As for the students who aren’t returning for in-person instruction Thursday, Thompson said they’ll continue learning virtually until at least the end of the first quarter. Parents will be able choose the learning model for the second quarter at the end of September.