Seven months to the day of when they were last in the classroom, Owensboro Public Schools students returned to in-person instruction Monday.
All students were required to wear masks and social distance throughout the day.
Roughly 80% of students are beginning in-person classes this week under the A/B model adopted by OPS — with half attending Monday and Tuesday and the rest on Thursday and Friday.
The remaining 20% of students are enrolled in the OPS Virtual Academy — an online-only option this semester.
Superintendent Matthew Constant said Monday felt like the first day of school all over again.
“Teachers, students, everyone – I haven’t met a person who is not excited to be back,” he said.
Constant said as he visited various school campuses Monday morning, kids were being met at cars and on the bus for temperature checks.
Once students were in the building they were encouraged to practice social distancing.
“They are in their classrooms distanced,” Constant said. “We have removed all extraneous things from classrooms so we can maximize distance. We have plexiglass dividers in the cafeteria and specific places where kids stand in line. We will be as safe as humanly possible with our kids.”
Constant said OPS will follow the A/B schedule but after a few weeks, he will survey staff, parents and students and make decisions moving forward for the rest of the semester and for the spring.
Constant said until a vaccine is in place, he thinks they are going to have to offer virtual options of learning for the students.
Destini Leonard, senior at Owensboro Innovation Academy, said she was excited to get back in the classroom and finish out her last year of school in person.
“I think virtual was good, but I think it’s going to be better in person,” she said.
Jeremiah Hinson, computer science facilitator for Owensboro Innovation Academy, said it’s good to be back.
“Virtual was different,” he said. “For some it was difficult, for a lot of us it was difficult — but I think we did an excellent job with it. It’s good to see faces we haven’t seen in person since March.”
Hinson echoed Constant and said all the faculty and staff are doing everything they can to keep everyone safe.
“Keeping things clean and safe is a top priority,” he said. “We want to do what we have to do to maintain in-person moving forward.”
He did say that social distancing would be a challenge for some students, but they were going to make the best of it.
“Just seeing students is nice — it’s what we’ve been working toward,” he said. “We’re going to jump through any hoop, tackle any obstacle we can to keep the kids safe and work on getting them here more long term.”