Sixth graders a little nervous but excited to join Southern Middle
As the days grow longer in March, the shadows grow taller as older students begin their phased return to campuses across Fayette County Public Schools. After the COVID-19 pandemic spurred a year’s hiatus, sixth graders have resumed in-person instruction. Seventh and eighth graders will follow next Monday, March 15. (The district continues to offer remote learning for families who prefer that mode.)
At Southern Middle School, a range of feelings was on display as youngsters got an initial look inside the building. “At first my legs were shaky. I was excited and nervous at the same time,” said sixth grader Devin Thompson. He reported the morning went smoothly and everyone was already accustomed to the basic safety precautions, such as wearing masks and staying six feet apart. “It’s not going to be the full experience, but it’ll still be an amazing experience,” Devin said of the rest of this semester. “I’m really excited to have three whole years here,” he added.
Classmate Addison Tencza, whose father is associate principal at Southern, was more familiar with the school than most of her peers. “I already knew where my classes were, so it’s been really easy,” she said during a brief break.
Among the COVID-19 related changes, the rows of metal lockers will go unused this spring to discourage students from congregating in the halls. They will also adjust to alphabetized seating charts, which can help with contact tracing if necessary.
Science teacher Chase Smith, who has taught at Southern for 12 years, is making some classroom changes in this new normal, too, such as retooling the hands-on lab work. Regardless, he was thrilled to welcome students in person. “To have kids back in the building is very exciting. The power of that feeling is difficult to describe,” he said. “It’s definitely a first day unlike any other year.”
(Posted March 8, 2021)