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Rock Island-Milan school district welcomes students back to the classroom full time

It's the first time students will have full in-person learning since March of 2020

MILAN, Illinois — The Rock Island-Milan school district is officially back in session. Students at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Milan walked the red carpet to celebrate the first day of the school year. Superintendent Doctor Reginald Lawrence says it’s a day to celebrate saying, “It’s a beautiful day to have all of our students coming back.”

It’s the first time students will be in the classroom full time since March of 2020. Students will go to school in-building 5 days a week all day. Dr. Lawrence says the district is optimistic this is something they won’t have to change. 

With cases on the rise locally, there is a plan in place to switch to online learning if needed. Dr. Lawrence saying, “I tried to prepare my families to say be ready for anything. We want to move as quickly as possible. We want to keep staff and students safe.”

For families it was a big day too. Siblings Olivia, Nolan, and Sebastian all attend Jefferson. Their mom, Sarah Hubber says her kids were very excited to be going back to the classroom. 

“They’ve been up for hours wearing their backpacks and making sure they had everything ready," she said. 

Hubber, offering reassuring words as Olivia hesitated at the door saying, “It’s okay Sebastian will go with you.” All three siblings walking in together to beat the first day jitters.

While the hustle and bustle of the first day of school brings a welcoming sense of normalcy, it’s not without pandemic precautions. All students and staff will be wearing masks in the building. 

Dr. Lawrence says it’s a small price to pay for the benefits of in-person learning. “Some of our students, they need those fist bumps, they need that hand on the shoulder to say, you're going to be okay, whatever challenge it is today.” 

Kids were also temperature checked at the door of the building, parents saying goodbye outside.

The district hopes to keep students in the classroom as much as possible. Parent Melissa Hummel says she was excited for her daughter Isabel to be going back to the classroom too. She says last year went smooth at home, but it had its drawbacks. 

“It was sad to not have the kids in school and to have them home without their friends," she said. 

Both Hummel and Hubber say they aren’t too concerned right now to have their students in the classroom. The parents agree the masks, distancing, and precautions keep the kids safe enough to benefit from the classroom.

Despite a year of home learning, traditions are back including the first day of school picture and hugging mom and dad goodbye at the door. The students at Jefferson, more than eager to get to class.