Columbus City Schools Welcomes Students Back For In-Person Learning
Avondale Elementary School teachers and staff stood outside the building's entrance by the playground, greeting students as they arrived by bus or alongside their parents dropping them off.
Thursday was the first day of classes for Columbus City Schools as administrators and teachers welcomed students back full-time after a year of remote and hybrid learning. They asked students if they knew where they were heading, and even just how their summers were. Joining them were employees of Mount Carmel's College of Nursing and the Columbus Blue Jackets' mascot, Stinger.
It's the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic that students are back in-person, five days a week. Columbus schools superintendent Talisa Dixon, who showed up at Avondale Thursday morning, said she's excited for what they'll learn.
"Learning must be fun and engaging for our students, and we're utilizing technology and other partners and resources to make those lessons come alive for our students," Dixon said.
But for La'Kisha Graham, whose daughter is starting the fourth grade at Avondale, while she's just excited to get some alone time at home — especially with school being full-time again — she feels students being back in-person is best for their sake.
"I know that being at the house with them was fine, and I kept them safe, but they didn't get that interaction that they needed," Graham said. "Now they're in there five days and I think it's going to be awesome, because they get that interaction again, and it gets to bring back what it was from the year before."
While schools like Avondale are starting in-person, not all Columbus students were able to return to classrooms on Thursday. Twenty schools in the district, 11 elementary schools, six middle schools and three high schools, began the year with remote learning due to high temperatures this week.
"We did not want to bring students and staff back in those conditions," Dixon said. "One of the mitigation strategies stated that you needed to have proper ventilation and air flow. And with temperatures of 90, it's really hard to have proper air flow."
Dixon said she hopes students and staff will return to their buildings on Monday.
But for those coming back in-person on Thursday, Graham, who also has a seventh grader, said it means smelling fresh classrooms and books. And while she mentioned her fourth-grade daughter Le'Nay didn't show too much excitement Thursday morning getting out of bed, she's excited for her to make new friends and get back to the first-day-of-school routine.
"The first day of school has always been exciting for me when I was little," Graham said. "It gets exciting for parents too to see that their kid is going another year, and to see that they're going to accomplish something — just to be happy about the future."