It was the same, but it was so very different.
The hugs were air hugs. The high fives were elbow fives. The smiles were covered by masks. There weren’t ordered lines of classes assembled on the playground blacktop, waiting for their turn to go in and start their first day of a new school year; instead, students entered when they arrived after getting a temperature scan. They made their way to their physically distanced desk by themselves.
But students were happy to be back at school, seeing their friends, and greeting teachers and school administrators. “Oh my gosh! Is that you? You’ve gotten so tall! I’m so excited to see you!” one principal exclaimed when greeting her students on Monday. There were first-day-at-a-new-school jitters for kindergarteners, sixth graders, and freshmen. Some students weren’t quite sure what door to go into or where their first class was, but there was always an adult ready to help. There was a girl who brought a coffee for her friend--a contactless hug-in-a-cup. One student rode her bike to school for the first day and watched from across the street even though her cohort didn’t attend in person until the following day; she was just too excited to see the school and see her friends.
That level of excitement was palpable all over LPS campuses. There was a genuine feeling of being glad and relieved to return to something resembling normal. As Landon, a seventh grader at Euclid Middle School, said, “Being stuck at home is not fun, especially after six months. No one can stand it.” He definitely prefers learning at school: “In person is way better.”
Principals commented it has been a pretty smooth start to the school year. There have been very few issues with masks, and students have been following physical distancing guidelines. They are happy to see students and teachers in person again after having to move to distance learning so abruptly last March.
The district has worked hard to be able to open up schools with a clean, safe, and healthy educational environment. Bryan Breuer, principal at Goddard Middle School, said, “Our families put a lot of trust in us, and we hold that sacred as principals.”