Students In Southern Utah Return To The Classroom

Aug 13, 2020, 5:18 AM | Updated: Aug 14, 2020, 10:38 am

ST. GEORGE, Utah – More than 37,000 students in Southern Utah returned to the classrooms Thursday.

Washington County School District is the first in the state to reopen, and the first day of school looked and felt a little different than in years past. It’s been six months since students in Utah have been inside physical classrooms, and there’s some mixed emotions.

“I’m actually kind of excited, but kind of spooked because of this whole pandemic thing,” said Dixie Middle School student Thelma.

Going to a new school is only adding to Thelma’s and her friend Lilly’s first-day jitters. However, they are excited about one thing.

“I’m glad to see all my friends,” DMS student Lilly said.

Both students said they were ready to mask up as soon as they entered the school.

Students will be wearing masks as part of Gov. Gary Herbert’s K-12 mandate, and they’ll be social distancing as much as possible both in school and on the bus.

However, that mandate will be challenging. On Thursday, some students could be seen wearing masks – and some were gathering in groups without them.

Regardless of the mask mandate, the students are back to school. Their return to the classroom isn’t just affecting the students, either.

District spokesperson Steve Dunham said teachers are enthusiastic – and he’s sure parents are, too.

“In the end, after six months, I think students will be glad to be back in the classroom,” he said. “I’m sure parents will be glad to have them back in the classroom, and we’re definitely glad.”

“Our teachers are so prepared,” he added. “They’re so ready. They’re thrilled to have the students back.”

Parents and students were given the option of in-person learning, virtual learning, or an in-person/virtual combination. Dunham wants to reassure those who have chosen to learn on site.

“We’re washing hands, we’re sanitizing hands,” he said. “On the weekend we are deep cleaning those buildings.”

School began Thursday for first – 12th grades. Kindergarten students will begin on Aug. 20.

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Students In Southern Utah Return To The Classroom