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Harrisonburg schools welcome back students on first day

Published: Aug. 31, 2020 at 6:18 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — On Monday, students in Harrisonburg returned back to class for their first day of school since classes let out back in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Students at Harrisonburg High School returned online with some students headed to campus to meet in-person in the classroom.

About 40 identified students at Spotswood Elementary School also had the same opportunity today and began learning how to work their Chromebooks and headsets.

“It’s just so motivating, it builds a sense of optimism that we’ve been lacking all summer so it’s a really exciting time for everyone,” Deb Cook, principal of the elementary school, said. “We have an energy that’s returned to our building that we have been missing for the last six months.”

The classrooms look different for this time of the year — those identified students are still meeting their teachers, but with social distancing measures put in place.

“In the rooms they’re socially distant, wearing masks, and they’re doing their learning today and it’s very exciting,” Michael Richards, division superintendent, said.

Richards said since most secondary students already have their virtual learning devices, this week primary students have the opportunity to pick their device up.

Instead of the cafeteria at Spotswood being filled with hungry students, the space was filled with learning packets and Chromebooks.

“We have a wonderful assistant staff that has been rallying around our teachers pulling together theses devices and bagging them together,” Brendon Derstine, assistant principal, said. “This process has been going on over the past few weeks and we are excited to give them out to our students.”

On Sept. 8, virtual instruction will begin for those primary students who are learning from home.

Also on Monday, teachers and staff at Elon Rhoades Early Learning Center had their chance to meet their Pre-K students and hand out devices to families who opted out of in-person learning.

It’s a milestone the school division is celebrating as they prepare for the road ahead.

“You know, since March we’ve all wondered what this day would look like,” Richards said. “It’s very exciting to be here, but again, the real challenge is now to get all the students back to school.”

Copyright 2020 WHSV. All rights reserved.

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