“I am so excited … it’s my first time here in real life!”
“I have waited so long for this!”
The old adage declaring that “out of the mouths of babes oft come gems” was never more accurate than this past Monday morning when students were welcomed back to San Marino Unified School District campuses after almost a year away because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two kindergartners were overheard vocalizing these two nuggets as students in transitional kindergarten through 2nd grade came back to Valentine and Carver Elementary schools. The event was rife with uncommon sights such as students having their temperatures checked and directional signage encouraging social distancing, but after months away from their friends and teachers, nobody was upset by it.
“What a remarkable day,” exclaimed Valentine Elementary School Principal Alana Fauré. “We had 134 children come back to school with confidence and excitement. They couldn’t wait to meet their teachers for the first time in-person.”
Fauré reported that, thankfully, the extended time away from campus may not have affected one fundamental tenet of youth.
“Just as in regular times, their favorite part of the day was recess with old and new friends,” said Fauré. “The months of planning paid off with extremely smooth logistics for drop-off and pick-up. Valentine had a hugely successful first day back.”
Two miles across Huntington Drive, Carver Elementary School Principal Michael Lin reported a similar experience.
“It was very heartwarming to see our students back on campus,” said Lin. “I’m sure there were lots of happy smiles underneath all those masks. Teachers and staff were dancing to the music and were elated to see students return. They have been working around the clock to get their classrooms ready. Their dedication and courage are what makes them true essential workers. You cannot help but be deeply inspired by their dedication. I feel their love for children and I applaud our teachers, staff, PTA and district office for helping Carver have a safe and successful reopening of school for TK-2.”
Last week, public health officials gave Los Angeles County elementary schools the green light to reopen for students in transitional kindergarten through 6th grade due to a decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and San Marino was ready.
Lena Richter, the SMUSD’s executive director of educational services, quickly launched a survey of all TK-2 families that revealed that 50% favored a hybrid model that included some distance learning and a portion of in-person instruction while another 50% chose to remain with distance learning. Superintendent Jeff Wilson reported that approximately 250 students arrived on campuses on Monday without incident.
The district is currently working on a plan to bring students in grades 3-6 back to school.