PUEBLO — The hallways of Minnequa Elementary are filled with smiles underneath masks from both students and teachers again, as schools reopen to in-person learning today.
"We're all kind of holding back tears cause the kids look a little bit older!" said Principal Kate Harshman, saying they normally see their students after about three weeks during winter break. This time, the staff went about eight weeks apart from their students.
Temperatures were taken every time someone entered the building and Ms. Harshman was constantly distributing hand sanitizer.
"The staff is well prepared," said Harshman. "We've really locked in routines and procedures."
The students I spoke with today were just as excited to be back as the staff.
"I'm feeling happy and excited because I haven't seen my friends or my teachers for a long time," said 4th grader Spencer Sims.
Many of them also agreed that they learn better in a school environment, versus being at home.
"If I'm here I'll get less distracted," said 4th grader Nicholes Dahling. Sims agreed that "it's easier to focus" when she is in school.
The students and teach are all wearing masks and socially distancing anytime they are inside. Now that vaccines are available, there is hope that in-person learning has returned for good. However, Harshman says in the event that they do go back to remote learning, her team at Minnequa is prepared for anything.
"As an educator you learn to be adjustable," said Harshman. "We just want make sure kids are safe and we keep kids learning."
Both District 60 and District 70 returned to face-to-face learning this morning. For D70, all elementary and middle schoolers who opted to are having "Full In-person Learning". The high schools are a mix of full in-person and a hybrid model. As for D60, elementary school students began full in-person learning and middle schools moved to hybrid. Meanwhile, high school will continue learning remotely until January 25, where they will also begin a hybrid model.