• 66°

Anticipation high for school opening

New friends, new teachers and probably a few jitters.

After months of shutdown due to the coronavirus, the voices and energy of excited students, families and teachers filled Windsor Elementary School on Sept. 2 during an in-person open house. Visits were by appointment for kids and parents to meet their teachers and see their classrooms.

Isle of Wight County Schools opened on Sept. 8 for two days a week of in-person teaching for Pre-K through third grade and special education students who will attend on an alternating schedule. Fourth through 12th-grade students are starting the year with 100% virtual learning; that option is also available for Pre-K through third grade students.

L.T. Foster will be in Stacey Rodgers’ third-grade class at Windsor Elementary. He was joined on a recent visit by his younger brother, Grayson, his mom, Anna-Lee Blythe, and Mary Catherine Foster, L.T.’s and Grayson’s grandmother. L.T. said he missed his friends and is excited to be back.

“This grandmother is so happy,” Mary Catherine quipped when asked if she was ready for school to start.
Assistant Principal Erin Luck said everyone she’s talked to is excited to return. In the lead-up to reopening, she said some students asked if school could start early. “All the kids I see in the community, they’re excited, they run and they want to come up and hug you,” Luck said. “They’re excited to be back in the building.” School Principal Ellen Couch echoed that sentiment.

“We had people lined up at our door before 1 o’clock, and they’re excited to come in here and see their child’s teacher and try to renew some sense of normalcy in their lives, and that’s what we want to create here at Windsor,” said Couch, who is in her sixth year as principal.

Across the building, first-grade teacher Christine Morrison, who has taught in Isle of Wight since 2005, proudly showed off her classroom. Desks are spaced out and outfitted with plastic shields. Tubs of books and supplies were ready for students. This year she’ll have 18 students — nine each day on the alternating schedule.

“That’s the one thing that’s nice — I do have smaller numbers, so I can meet with the students a little more often,” Morrison said. Windsor Elementary normally has about 570 students; this year, about 100 will be in the building daily, Couch said.

Students will be socially distanced in classrooms, masks will be required on buses, when entering the school building and while walking to classrooms. Teachers will explain when students should wear and remove their face coverings. Masks will be required when social distancing isn’t feasible. Bathroom breaks, recess and lunch procedures will be different in 2020-2021.

“Although things are different, I want kids to feel welcome and feel loved and be happy to be back with us because we truly have missed them,” Couch said. “We’re going to make it the best year ever.”