Delaware City Schools students returned to school buildings Monday for the first time since March.
The district opened the 2020-2021 school year with a blended learning model that divides the student body into two groups; Group A students will attended in-person classes Monday and Tuesday and every other Wednesday, while Group B students will attend Thursday and Friday and alternate Wednesdays with Group A.
Group A students started the school year in person Monday throughout the district, along with students whose families opted to enroll them in the online-only academy taught by Delaware teachers for the school year.
Group B students will start the school year in person on Wednesday.
Masks and social distancing were required in the schools Monday, and many safety features have been put in place to reduce the likelihood of spreading COVID-19.
Mackenzie Collett, the board of education’s student board member, said the first day of her senior year was a different experience.
“Overall, my last first day went really well,” Collett said. “It was different from any other year, but that was to be expected.”
She added the biggest differences were the changes to the parking lot, which now allows students to park anywhere, and the adjustment to make all the hallways in the school one-way halls.
“(Parking) was different as spots that I may not have been able to get before, such as those closer to my classes, were available,” Collett said. “(One-way hallways) made getting from class to class interesting as instead of going down a hallway we usually would or up the closest staircase, we had to sometimes take the long way around the school. But luckily, the administration accounted for this change by building into the schedule extra time between classes.”
Collett said the mask requirement “did change certain aspects” of her school day like seeing her classmate’s faces or how often she could drink from her water bottle, but she didn’t feel like it impaired her ability to learn.
“I could still clearly hear all of my teachers and classmates and still felt like I was able to focus,” she said. “While it definitely was not how I envisioned my first day of senior year, I am incredibly grateful to still have gotten to attend. I have nothing but respect for the Delaware City Schools and Hayes High School administrations for all their hard work in ensuring that we could return to school safely.”
Hayes High School Principal Richard Stranges said he’s proud of how the first day of school went.
“Our students, staff, parents, and our school community responded in unison on day one of a very unusual first day of school,” Stranges said. “I am so proud of their collective efforts and collaborative spirit.”
At Conger Elementary School, the day was not only the first for students, but also for Principal Kerri Templeton, who assumed the role this summer.
“What a wonderful day we had here at Conger!” Templeton said in an email Monday afternoon. “The students were all so excited to be back in the building. The staff here was so happy to see the students and everyone had an incredible day. We are Pacer Proud!”
Likewise, at Smith Elementary School, new Principal Jake LeGros said he was glad to see and meet students and families.
“Today was amazing!” LeGros said. “Seeing students and families back on school grounds was exactly what we all needed to see. The kids were excited to be back, our teachers were super happy to see their kiddos, and our parents were confident that we have the best plan and protocols in place to make this school year happen.”
Superintendent Heidi Kegley said the first day of school was “amazing.”
“I am so appreciative of everyone’s — staff, students and families— commitment to implementing the safety practices which allowed us to have an amazing first day of school,” Kegley said. “Our staff were overjoyed to see our kids this morning. We know our online academy teachers have enjoyed connecting with our students learning at home as well. We look forward to our second first day of school on Wednesday when we welcome our Group B students.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.