CHANDLER, AZ — Today was a big day for many kids around the Valley as Chandler, Queen Creek and Florence Unified School Districts began in-person classes after a year online for many.
“A lot of them went online last year and they’re back for the first time in a year and so they’re super excited to see their friends again and reconnect with those relationships,” said Loni Fosburgh, a second-grade teacher at San Marcos Elementary School.
But today was even more special for the students in kindergarten and first grade as many of them got to experience for the very first time being inside a classroom.
Fosburgh says students as young as 6 years of age had a lot of questions about the safety guidelines they needed to follow.
“I've been asked that so many times, ‘do we need to wear a mask?’ and they’re just checking and checking cause there are things that they still can’t do like using the water fountains. So, they’re checking what things they can and can’t do.”
But some things have not changed like experiencing long lines at the cafeteria, the little things we all had to learn during our first day of school.
Quiroz says even those 'hiccups' made school staff feel joyful.
“It’s great to see their faces again,” said Ana Quiroz.
Quiroz works at the cafeteria at San Marcos Elementary school. She says she was nervous, but also excited.
Many students wore masks during their first day of school, but Arizona does not require them to do so.
“They just can't mandate the requirement of masks or requirement to be vaccinated, but they can encourage, they can educate, and they can still deploy the mitigation strategies that the State Department and the CDC have,” said the Arizona Department of Health Services Director, Dr. Cara Christ.
Fosburgh says she understands there are some concerns among parents.
“I just think it is best for the kids to be in the classroom with kids their age with teachers they can interact with that can immediately provide feedback, but I’m also relieved they’re still outlets for parents that don’t feel safe and want to keep kids online.”