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‘Smooth’ first day for Marion County students returning to campus

About 70% of students returned to classroom, about 30% continue online learning

Parents and teachers say the first day of school went pretty smoothly in Marion County, the biggest complaint from parents at Harbourview Elementary was about the long dismissal process.

Students riding the bus were dismissed in small groups, while those picked up by their parents were dismissed one at a time.

“I was just happy to be back and to have my friends and talk to them,” said 5th grade student Noah Kaylor.

Kaylor said instead of hugs, he gave air shakes to his friends.

News 6 peeked inside a few classrooms at Harbourview Elementary School and saw that students were either wearing a mask or face shield. The principal said it will take some getting used to for the young ones.

“It was a lot harder for them to keep them on than we first thought. We just had to keep reminding them. They weren’t doing it out of spite. If it falls down you have to say ‘Hey, can you pick it back up ... or why don’t you try a face shield?’” said Principal Robert Hensel.

Many classrooms have reminders about mask-wearing. Desks were spaced apart, as much as they can be. Markers are posted on the ground to promote social distancing. The biggest sign of normalcy was spotting kids outside playing during recess.

The cafeteria was quite. Kaylor said he was the only class eating inside the cafeteria during his lunchtime.

"We had spots and we were the only class in there and we spread out like six feet on each table," said Kaylor.

Fifth grade teacher, Leah Mengarelli was excited to see her students face-to-face.

"Today went surprisingly well. You want to be in front of your kids. Distance learning was a challenge but I think everyone's excited to get some sort of normalcy. It's great seeing everybody for sure," said Mengarelli.

Some teachers were in empty classrooms and their students were learning virtually.

One parent said she had a difficult time using the web platform for her kindergartner.

"It was hard to log in to the computer so we just went ahead and did the school work," said Deandra.

For students in school, instead of having every class to go a music or art room, the elective teachers came to them so they can stay put in their classrooms.

03:16:51 “It was so fun,” second grade student John Shannon said.

The principal said it was only day one and that dismissal will be quicker and more efficient once they get into a routine.


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