SALEM, OR (KPTV) - The second largest school district in the state, Salem-Keizer Public Schools welcomed kindergarteners and first graders back inside the classroom Tuesday.
FOX 12 visited Keizer Elementary to see what the first day of school during a pandemic looks like.
Parents and bus drivers dropped off the students. The kids all wore masks and practiced social distancing.
“The online learning is a little difficult for kids, I think, especially when you’re in the kindergarten through third grade space, so we were very excited to be able to come back to school today,” said parent, Nathan Bauer.
They’re now learning in a hybrid model, in two different cohorts to help with social distancing. That means some kids will come Tuesdays and Thursdays and another group will attend Wednesdays and Fridays.
“I think just that in-person, that social presence when you have kids that are coming back and are such at that young age, it’s very important that they have that contact from friends and teachers and everything else,” said Bauer.
Students will still spend the majority of their week online, where they’ll work on assignments their teacher gives them and attend music and P.E. Classes online.
The in-person days are also shorter than normal, to allow time to sanitize and get kids on spaced-out bus routes.
“The fact that we were starting kind of later in the day was kind of a curveball for them, because they got up early ready to go,” said parent, David Fessler. “So yeah, they were quite excited.”
Parents FOX 12 spoke with said they were a little nervous.
“I’m so happy they’re going back, you know, just worried about behaviors, things like that, being able to listen, being able to sit for an extended period of time,” said Fessler. “Because it’s been over a year since they’ve been able to do that.”
As for teachers at Keizer and the first day back, they said it’s going well so far.
“Today has been lots of fun so far,” said first grade teacher, Dawn Ferrara. “It has been lovely just to see their faces and listen to them talking with each other.”
“Usually the parents on the first day, in kindergarten, the parents walk them in and they walked in all by themselves and they did a great job,” said kindergarten teacher, Lexa Wilmes.
“They’re doing fine,” said kindergarten teacher, Angela Hause. “There are no tears, which is surprising in kindergarten, because they know each other’s faces and they know my face already, so we didn’t have any tears.”
Second and third graders will return to school March 9th. Fourth and fifth graders will return the week after that.