CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Many students and teachers with Charlottesville City Schools made the big return to the classroom Monday. For teachers and students at Walker Upper Elementary, March 8 has been circled on the calendar for weeks. It marks the start of something special - a return to normalcy.
“Today’s been a lot of fun. Right now the entire sixth grade is getting a chance to be outside and to play with one another,” Walker Upper Elementary School Principal Adam Hastings said.
Pre-K through sixth grade students in the Charlottesville City School system are now back in class two days a week. The majority of teachers are vaccinated.
“Our afternoons are really a lot of outdoor time,” Hastings said. “Some children may spend as much as two hours outside in the afternoon.”
Hastings says they added eight outdoor classrooms.
“Kids are spending time outside, breathing the air, and doing learning in a different format and it’s so far so good,” he said.
Many teachers went the extra mile to keep kids smiling, even behind the masks. Sixth grade counselor John Kronstain, or ‘Mr K.’, dressed up in a unicorn suit to spread joy.
“We knew this morning was going to be stressful with the long lines and drop off and I was in the middle of the street and so hopefully you can’t help but laugh and start the day off with a smile,” Kronstain said.
He says watching the students reunite with one another was especially heart-warming.
“They were just happy to see each other. I mean these kids, a lot of them have been going to school together since preschool and they’re going to be together until their senior year,” Kronstain said. “It’s going to be great to just have them back in the building.”
Kronstain says this school day is a step in the right direction, especially for the mental health of students.
“As a counselor, I’m concerned with their mental health,” he said. “Seeing them back with one another, around one another, just goes to show how incredible it is and how urgent it was to bring them back and for them to be around each other.”
All students grades 7-12 are still virtual for now, but Charlottesville High School and Buford Middle School will return for hybrid learning after spring break in April.