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Washington Co. students go back to class for the first time since start of pandemic

Posted at 9:17 PM, Aug 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-13 23:17:44-04

ST. GEORGE, Utah — Thousands of Washington County students went back to class for the first time since the pandemic on Thursday.

“I think we are ready,” said Amanda Eardley while dropping her son off at Washington Fields Intermediate School.

The first day of school always comes with a few jitters — that’s nothing new.

“Pretty excited,” said Tyler Eardley

However masks for students is new, as well as face shields for teachers and social distancing at lunch.

“They put dots so people can sit on them and so they can stay six feet apart,” said South Mesa Elementary 1st grader Tate Smith.

“They also don’t scoop the food on the tray. They have it ready and they ask you what your drink is,” said 4th grader Olivia Smith.

It’s been almost six months since students were in classrooms and the first time since community spread of the COVID-19.

“We wanted to see our friends but we were scared we’d get sick or something,” Olivia admits.

Roughly 35,000 children started classes Thursday in Washington County. It’s the first district in Utah to go back to school this fall. District Spokesperson Steven Dunham said it went better than expected.

“There is a lot of anxiety from parents, from students, from teachers. Yet, everybody is coming together to give this an opportunity to see if we can make this work,” said Dunham.

The district anticipated 95 percent of students to use in-person learning. They were met with a first-day surprise.

“The reports from a lot of schools are that a lot of the schools, the students that said they’d be online showed up at school today,” said Dunham.

That’s good news, said Dunham, who believes more parents feel comfortable with school safety measures. As for the kids?

“We have to wear masks but I don’t think that’s too much of a big deal,” said Eardley.

The district didn’t report any COVID-19 scares on the first day and hope their efforts keep students and staff healthy.