First day back for HCCSC students and staff after closing due to COVID-19 pandemic

After months of planning with health officials and district staff, Huntington County Community Schools Corporation are finally back to class. The excitement of the first day was mixed with curiosity about what the new normal would look like.

Posted: Aug 5, 2020 5:34 PM
Updated: Aug 6, 2020 10:06 AM

HUNTINGTON, Ind. (WFFT) -- Students and staff within the Huntington County Community Schools Corporation eagerly arrived for their first day of class Wednesday morning.

For students like Huntington North junior Cameron Richison, it was a chance to see their friends after months apart. Richison said "I’m ready to go back. I miss my friends. I know it’s going to be a little restrictive, but i’m just ready to see my friends again."

It was more than feeling excited for HNHS biology teacher Chelsea Haneline in the days and weeks leading up to the first day.

"I went from very excited, to a little nervous, to frustrated sometimes, to nervous, to excited," Haneline said. "I feel like it was a whole mesh of emotions."

HCCSC Superintendent Chad Daugherty says the first day is always one to look forward to, saying "Our teachers are excited. I know our support staff is excited and I just think it's a beautiful day to have kids come back to have some of those experiences may they may look different though."

WHAT'S THE PLAN? Find your child's school's reopening plan here

They look different because of new learning options, guidelines and restrictions put in place to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in the schools.

One of those restrictions means FOX 55 was not able to film inside the school, because HCCSC isn’t allowing visitors inside their buildings.

Daugherty outlined some of the safety guidelines. He explained,

"The number one thing is you have masks. One thing we can do is protect ourselves from others and others to others, also doing the social distancing is going to be big, and also cohorting students. Basically you’re putting students in seating charts at lunch, seating charts on the bus, seating charts obviously in class for that contact tracing. Also, we’ve got sanitizer throughout the building. We’ve got watering stations. We’ve closed down our water fountains and we just have watering stations for water bottles to be able to be used. We’ve actually done traffic in our hallways and put lines down, so one way that way. We’ve allowed students to take book bags to class to try to minimize students going to lockers, we’ve encouraged that. We’ve also done alternate passing periods, so you might have all the even classrooms dismissed at one time then all the odd classrooms dismissed later. So, we’ve taken a lot of safeguards that way. Cleaning, obviously is going to be heightened during this time. We feel like we’ve done a really good job planning and now today is working the plan, per se."

But as much as things have changed, they’re still the same.

Students were still stepping out in stylish shoes, and carrying the best bookbags slung across their shoulders.

Pairing their gear this year with facemasks.

There was still the first day confusion of students not knowing if they should go to homeroom or first period when they arrived, but there was a realization of the importance of school. 

Haneline explained, "I know a lot of parents that I’ve talked to are like yeah I think my kids actually appreciate school a lot more now than they did before because they realize they need this environment and need the teachers and peers a lot more than they realized."

More information on HCCSC's reopening guidelines can be found here.

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