After more than a month of teaching classes through video cameras and laptop computers, Yukon teachers finally got an opportunity to do what they do best — teach … in person.
More than 8,000 students made their way to their classrooms Monday for the first time this school year.
“It was nice,” Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth said of Monday’s return for most students.
It was the first time most had been inside a school building since March 13.
The district began the year on a continuous learning plan in August. That plan had students learning at home through online options, while teachers were in their classroom.
Students had been expected to return to the classroom after fall break in October. However, at their September meeting, the school board voted to return to the classroom sooner, following Simeroth’s recommendation.
Students in pre-kindergarten through third grade returned last Wednesday.
Those in fourth through 12th grades returned Monday.
“We had the typical first-day excitement of everyone coming back. We had the newness of the procedures that are in place,” Simeroth said.
To attend classes, all students are required to wear masks while entering the building and walking the halls.
Younger students, those in lower elementary, are allowed to remove their masks in the classroom.
Upper elementary, middle school and high school students are required to wear masks at all times in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
In addition, teachers are working to maintain social distancing between students, and there are temperature checks.
“It was a good day. Everyone we saw was happy to be back,” Simeroth said. “It was a real treat for everyone to have the kids in the classroom.”
Simeroth visited several classrooms, as is his tradition on the first day of classes.
In each, he said, the students were excited.
“The cheers and the hands that were up was very encouraging. They were happy to be back,” he said.
The excitement was especially apparent at Redstone Intermediate.
The $28 million school, located at the intersection of Britton and Mustang roads, opened for the first time on Monday.
Construction on the project finished about two weeks ago.
“That was fun,” Simeroth said. “It’s nice to get into a building and see the look on people’s faces about a new building. It’s always cool to be the first kids in the building.”
There are approximately 600 students attending the school, which houses grades four through six.
Simeroth said the district’s enrollment is approximately 8,800 with about 800 students continuing to attend classes virtually.