On Day 140, students and teachers returned to the classroom at schools throughout Yukon.
And with that, the calendar begins to tick to the start of summer.
This year, summer break will start a little more than a week later than expected.
That’s because for the past two weeks, Yukon educators, like more than 30,000 others from across the state, have participated in a walkout in support of increased funding for classrooms.
That decision shut down classes beginning April 2.
Last Thursday, the Yukon Professional Educators’ Association agreed to end its full-time participation in the walkout. They agreed to return to class beginning Monday.
So, the normal sounds of buses shifting gears on Vandament and Yukon Parkway returned Monday morning.
Students could be heard squealing with excitement outside of the schools and teachers were abuzz with new plans for their classes.
First thing, get them into class, at their desks and working on their lesson plans.
At Parkland Elementary, Monday was the start of Oklahoma week.
In Kim Byerly’s classroom, 28 smiling faces were about to learn all about their home state.
“It was good,” Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth said at the end of the first day of classes.
“I think all the kids were happy to be back, to see their friends. It was an energetic day. It was good to be back after a two-week hiatus,” he said.
He also said the teachers were happy to see the students to whom they have dedicated their lives.
“I think it helped morale,” he said.
Teachers across the district got started early, preparing for state-required testing.
The window for testing was actually supposed to have started on April 3. It has been extended until April 27 because of the walkout, state Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said earlier.
Simeroth said testing in Yukon was scheduled to begin Tuesday.
He also said he doesn’t expect the delay to hurt test scores.
“Our teachers did a good job of preparing the students leading up to the walkout. They were prepared,” he said.
The superintendent said the testing could have begun on Monday, but the administration felt it was important to get the students back into a routine.
Meanwhile, juniors at the high school were to begin Tuesday preparing to take the SAT. That test is scheduled for April 24.
Simeroth said that while the students are back in class and teachers are back at their desks, the work at the Capitol is not finished.
Yukon will continue to send a delegation of about 25 teachers to the Legislature on Tuesdays and Thursdays to continue to push for education support.
In addition, the school district plans to close on Nov. 6, the day of the general election, so that teachers have plenty of time to vote.
He said the difference that educators made during the walkout was significant, meaning that lawmakers can no longer put education on the back burner.
“We have a half-billion dollars funding increase, there were 725 candidates file for office. We are talking real tangible things that were accomplished,” he said.
But, it’s good to be back, Simeroth said.
“Every school I went to, 100 percent (of students) were there on time or early. The kids were running through the doors,” Simeroth said.