Photos, video and story by Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor
Rich Ellison was surprised to find himself so excited about his son’s first day in his actual kindergarten class Thursday morning,
“It’s like we’re starting the year at the end of the year,” said Ellison, as Will sat beside him in the Pittsfield Elementary parking lot, eagerly awaiting the start of school. “We’re incredibly excited.”
For the first time in just more than a year, AAPS buildings were opened, and the district welcomed preschool, Young Fives, and kindergarten students, and small self-contained classrooms of small groups of students in grades 6-12.
Half of the students met in the classroom Thursday while the other half learned from home. On Friday, that will flip.
About a third of the district’s students have opted to remain virtual through the rest of the 2020-21 school year.
Will’s teacher, Beth Ballbach, said there have been some positives associated with virtual learning—including the deeper way she got to know the families and her students.
“It’s been hard and challenging but also amazing to get to know my kids in a different way,” she said. “I got to know their homes, their pets, and to meet their families in a way I never have before. I am so excited to have them coming in in person.”
She admitted she was nervous about the technology needed to simultaneously teach students connected on Zoom and those in the classroom.
“But we are going to get through it and it will be great to be in person again,” she said.
The sound of children at play once again filled the Westerman Preschool and Family Center Thursday, and that’s music to the ears of Assistant Principal Jo Ann Telfer.
Carpenter Principal Michael Johnson said the opening day was made possible with the love and dedication of the AAPS teaching and support staff, and that of supportive parents.
More information about back-to-in-school learning information is available on the A2schools.org website, including:
- Building preparations for in-school learning, including air ventilation reports for each school,
- See a school tour of building preparations here,
- Information on what hybrid in-school learning will look like for both ‘roomies’ and zoomies,’
- Health and safety protocols, The Super Six, that will be implemented in every classroom and school,
- What to Expect from a student perspective for the return to in-school learning,
- A SISS Guide to in-person learning for students with an IEP, and
- Health support information and videos from our AAPS Nurse team.