Approximately 947 years ago — give or take — schools around the world shut their doors in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, discussion of the 2020-2021 academic year has been fraught with emotional debate. In-person or virtual learning? What about working parents? What about special services? How do we keep everyone safe? Yet even as many districts continue to plan, others have already had their first day of in-person learning. While questions of long-term success and safety remain to be seen, we can still ask: what did kids think of their first day back to school?
None of the children quoted in this article have gone back to a “traditional” classroom. Many schools have halved class size by adopting a “hybrid learning” model where students are only in school two days a week and learn remotely the other three — classrooms that would normally have 20 students only hold 10. Other districts have reorganized classrooms to maintain 6 feet of separation between desks, and kept students in cohorts to avoid contact as much as possible. Most schools had some kind of a mask policy. In many ways, schools, students, and parents are still feeling through a solution and will likely make adaptations through the year. Here’s what 17 pre-and grade-schoolers had to say about this new normal.