‘I get to meet my new friends’; students, teachers excited as the new school year begins

Piedmont Triad News

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) – Students across the Triad head back to in-person classes on Monday. It’s a moment parents, teachers and students have been waiting for more than a year. 

“We’re just all excited,” said Jeanelle Lindsay, principal at Reedy Fork Elementary in Greensboro. “Anticipating seeing their wonderful faces in the building.” 

While there is a lot of excitement there is also some anxiety as COVID-19 cases climb at a rapid rate in the state due to the Delta variant. 

“Hopefully we’ll be able to keep the spread down so we’re able to keep everybody safe and learning in person,” said Freddie Lewis, a History teacher at Eastern Guilford High School. 

Some teachers and parents told FOX8 they hope to avoid virtual learning as they deal with a mix of emotions. 

“I feel like they’ve been out of school long enough,” said Carla Dungee, parent of an elementary student. “I’m just making sure my child has clean masks to wear to school every day, just making sure that he understands that he has to wear it all day in order to stay safe and keep other kids safe.”

“I’m just excited for them to get in school and be around kids their age,” said Alexandria Strickland, parent of an elementary student. “I’m trying to keep it as normal for my kids. I’ve tried to do that since the beginning, so you know keeping everything positive and stay normal as possible.”

Students like Braylon Starnes are excited for the first bell to ring. 

“I get to meet my new friends,” he said. 

Classrooms will be full when students in Guilford County file into the buildings. Desks will be lined up and rooms will be cleaned on a regular basis. 

Lindsay is a second-year principal at Reedy Fork Elementary, but this will be her first time welcoming students in person. 

“It’s been a year, so I know everyone is anxious and ready to get back to normal or some sense of normalcy,” she said.

Teachers will be available to work one-on-one with students who need help catching up after virtual learning and the summer break.

“So that daily intervention that we’re going to put in place is going help us target where our students are and move them further where they need to go,” Lindsay said.

Teachers are ready to connect and create a better learning environment for students face-to-face.  

“They needed that interaction whether it’s socially with their friends or interaction with the teacher, to be able to ask a question,” said Alex Lewis, an English teacher at Grimsley High School. 

“There’s an accountability component to being there. It’s harder to ignore what you’re being asked to do when you’re sitting in front of the person asking you to do it than behind a screen,” Lewis said. “Hopefully we get a chance to get used to doing school the way school needs to be done. I mean COVID is still out there, so who knows what’s going to happen.” 

Dungee told FOX8 she is glad her elementary student will be learning from an expert instead of her. 

“Online was a little bit challenging even though it was a little safer for everyone,” she said. “It was more challenging and just I’m glad he’s getting in-person instruction.” 

Students will be spaced at least three feet apart. Masks are required in each school building across Guilford County Schools unless you’re eating or drinking. School staff will have masks available for students who need one. District leaders plan to review the mask policy at the end of each academic quarter. Visitors and volunteers are not allowed inside due to the Delta variant. 

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