ESTACADA, OR (KPTV) - Some of Estacada School District's youngest students got an enthusiastic welcome back to school on Monday.
It was an exciting day for students and staff at River Mill Elementary. Kindergarteners and first graders were back in the classroom, after what's been a school year like no other.
Students have the option of being in the classroom or learning online from home. For those who opted to be back at school, they learned about the new protocols in place, like wearing a mask at all times - except when eating - and practicing air hugs - because for the little ones, the real hugs are tempting.
Love this poster inside River Mill Elementary! It’s giving the younger students lots of options for “Social Distancing Greetings” while they’re back at school. We’ll have a full report on @fox12oregon at noon 👋🏼 pic.twitter.com/i4KP3qpuEQ— Amber Wilmarth (@amberwilmarth) January 25, 2021
"We feel very confident in our safety and health protocols, and all the work we've done to make sure we've filled any holes that we might have missed," River Mill Elementary Principal Jennifer Behrman said. "The work we put in paid off today with a really smooth morning."
Behrman says, like so many communities, they've overcome a lot of obstacles to make it to this day.
"It's like our third first day of school because we had to evacuate for the fires, that was the second first day. And now we're in a hybrid model with bringing our kids back," Behrman said.
The goal, Behrman told FOX 12, is bring more students back. She says the district will begin phasing in older students next month.
"I was talking to my kids before I left, they were jealous they weren't going back to school," said Ken Riedel, who is an Estacada School Board Member.
Riedel is a parent of a middle schooler and high schooler. He came down to the elementary school Monday morning to welcome the younger students back.
Riedel told FOX 12 having the kids here is person makes a big difference.
"The kids need that connection. It's a big part of their development and their social well being, so it's paramount," Riedel said. "We're excited to get them back in the classroom."
According to the school district's website, second through fifth grade students are tentatively scheduled to return to class in two weeks.