WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - This morning, Williston Middle School welcomed students back from spring break — but it’s been over a year since its students were in class five days a week.
It’s almost like getting back to normal. Moving into Plan A, New Hanover County Schools has a number of safety and health protocols in place to protect students and staff. Desks are spread apart, students wear masks and hand sanitizer is offered throughout the school.
New Hanover County Schools Superintendent Dr. Charles Foust says plenty of planning went into making today a reality.
“Going through and spot checking bus routes, lunches, all those things that you would do in the summer to be sure we were on track to open schools like our beginning of our first day of school a third time,” said Dr. Foust. “This one, we were really excited just having the opportunity.”
Even with the changes made to keep everyone safe, kids are excited.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said sixth grade student Nazaven Ray. “I like in-class learning because you can pay attention and if you’re at home, you get distracted more.”
Teachers are excited too. They say being in the classroom is important for both their education and social development.
“There are little nuances and social cues — the social-emotional part,” said seventh grade science teacher Mark Wade. “We’re in COVID mode, but what I’ve always done is shaking hands. I can’t do that now, but I can check in with each and every child as they come into the classroom and just see where they are.”
In a way it’s like a first-day of school for many of the students, some of whom may not have seen other classmates for the better part of a year.
“We have a fun class,” said Michael Mitchell Jr., a computer science teacher. “At this point, I’m wide open in the morning. First thing in the morning, everyone knows the classroom is real loud. You’ll get music, you’ll get random conversations and such.”
After dropping off his own children at school this morning, Dr. Foust was pleased with how smooth things were moving at middle and high schools across New Hanover County.
“I got to go through the drop off as a parent in the car-rider line,” said Dr. Foust. “The excitement, the structure that’s taking place, the individuals welcoming students — asking questions and waving at parents — parents waving. Just that sheer excitement of being able to feel a part of something.”