GALION — Even in these uncertain times, it was all smiles Thursday morning as children donned new backpacks and parents took photos of their kids on the first day of school in Galion.
One new wardrobe accessory besides a lunch box was very evident as students wore face masks, as required by the Ohio Department of Health for in classroom instruction.
“With (my daughter) wearing a mask all day, that might be a little difficult for kindergarten, but we’ve been working on it,” said Megan Nulk, whose daughter Makayla was excited to start her first year of school. “She was ready. She wants to be around other kids. She’s been home long enough, so she was very excited and I didn’t want to ruin her first year of school.”
And while there has been some apprehension about whether it’s safe to send students back to school amid COVID-19, the majority of parents at Galion Primary School on Thursday morning were ready for their kids to get back in the classroom, and to be able to see old friends and their teachers again.
“It’s been a great day,” said Galion City Schools superintendent Jennifer Allerding. “With out families, there are a wide variety of feelings and opinions based on individual circumstances, so the gamut is there. But talking to parents this morning, they were excited to have their kids back on campus. They were excited to deliver them to us. And the first day — especially if you have little Tigers — can be an emotional day for moms and dads.”
It was good to see a sense of normalcy return to the Galion campus.
“It was great to see the kids walking through the doors,” Allerding, who was named superintendent this summer, following the retirement of Jim Grubbs. “They did an exceptional job today. I’m so proud of our students with wearing the masks and doing all the extra little things we’ve asked them to do.”
Teachers and staff have spent many hours at home this summer getting ready to return to the classroom. And they spent time this week getting acclimated to new rules and regulations and mandates and chores.
“As far as the teachers, they’ve been in all week, and our bus drivers have been putting extra safety precautions in, and with talking to them I think it’s the anticipation. Today, it was almost like everybody had a sigh of relief,” Allerding noted. “Number one, just to have the kids back on campus, its good to have them back on campus.
“There are a few things we need to tweak, but it was so smooth. I think at this point everybody is happy to be back and I think it’s going better than what some people might have thought. After our first day, I think everybody feels a lot better. I think they feel good about the things they are doing and the plans we have in place.”
Social interaction with other students was a big reason Brittney Roelle decided to send her two children back into the classroom this year.
“They were excited and wanted to get into class, mask and all. They’ve been getting pretty used to it. It will all work out,” Roelle said .
“I think the kids need their friends,” said Megan Mick, the mother of Lilly who was starting kindergarten on Thursday. “She wanted to go, so that’s what we’re doing. She even loves the mask … a new fashion statement, I guess.”
Malibu Hammons said she started getting her kids ready for kindergarten and first grade by getting them acclimated to wearing the masks before school even started. She is hoping for the best.
“I decided to let the kids try it in school. It’s worth a try,” she said. “But if anything gets worse, I’ll definitely pull them.”
Allerding said there are approximately 1,800 students enrolled in the Galion City Schools district. About 1,450 returned to their classrooms Thursday. She said about 350 students have chosen to do the online academy.
She added that unless Crawford County would go to Level 3 on the COVID-19 graph, students will be in class everyday. If we do get to Level 3, then they would be in class two days a week and do online learning three days a week. Right now the county is at Level 1.
She hopes it stays that way.
Photo by Jodi Myers
Megan Nulk and daughter Makayla pose for a first-day of school photo as dad Kyle takes the picture.
Photo by Jodi Myers
Maliya Roelle puts on her face mask Thursday morning before entering the Primary School building on the Galion City Schools campus.