Baltimore-area students return to classrooms, many for the first time in nearly a year

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Lillian Reed, The Baltimore Sun
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BALTIMORE – Students around the Baltimore region headed back to school buildings Monday, many for the first time in a year since the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered Maryland public schools.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has urged school leaders to start bringing students back for in-person classes this month. Maryland school districts have reopened more slowly than other states.

Kindergartners through second graders braved some light rain with their parents to walk to Stoneleigh Elementary School in Towson Monday morning. A neighbor, who had ventured out to collect several newspapers from his front yard, asked a passerby which grades were returning to the building.

“Big day,” he said.

Cameron Burkhart, 6, arrived at Stoneleigh decked with a cat-themed face mask, a Star Wars backpack and Spiderman sneakers. The kindergartner counted off the names of several classmates he would be meeting for the first time face-to-face.

His mother Emma Burkhart and brother Jude said they greeted Cameron Monday morning with a homemade sign that said “first real day of school.”

Cameron said he was “both scared and excited” to be away from home and to eat in a lunch room for the first time.

Crossing guard Marcella Bazemore cheerfully escorted families across the street as they beelined toward the Baltimore County public school.

“I love that mask,” Bazemore said to students as they passed.

Bazemore noticed parents were as happy Monday as the kids, almost like it was their first day back to school too, she said.

“The parents eyes are just dancing like it’s Christmas,” Bazemore said.