Aug. 5—CLARKSVILLE — As students returned to class in Clarksville Community Schools, Superintendent Tina Bennett noticed high energy among staff and students, she said.
"It's the closest to what I have felt to normal in the past several years," she said. "I was in every building this morning chatting with students and staff, and it just feels different this year."
Thursday was the first day of class for the district. Other public school systems in Clark and Floyd have already resumed classes, including Greater Clark County Schools, New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp., Borden-Henryville School Corp. and Silver Creek School Corp.
This year, Clarksville Community Schools and other school districts are starting the year with optional masking. Although she hopes it won't be necessary, Bennett said the district has COVID-19 measures in place to quickly make adjustments if needed, including plans if schools need to go to virtual learning.
Bennett said the staff seems to be more well-rested upon their return this year.
"Last year when we came back, they had time off, but I didn't get the sense truly that their minds were at ease — they were still fearful of COVID and all that," she said. "This year, everyone seems more well-rested and trending back to normal."
Carey Davis, principal at Clarksville Elementary, said arrival on the first day of school went smoother than she expected, especially with the arrival of 60 new preschoolers. This school year, the elementary school has expanded PreK classrooms and added the On My Way PreK program.
Davis is hearing plenty of positive feedback from teachers, she said.
"Every teacher I've talked to today is like, I've got a great class, they're doing such a good job, they're really trying hard and following directions," she said. "I'm like, well it's early, but it is encouraging that so many kids still knew the routines and the expectations and that they're trying hard to do as they know they're supposed to do. Teachers have been pleased."
Her goal is to have a fun year of school, Davis said. This year, Clarksville Elementary's theme is "Aloha to Learning."
"We're just trying to get them excited about this year, and hopefully we're going to have a normal year," Davis said.
One of the top priorities is providing staff the support they need to educate students, Bennett said. Staffing has been a challenge for the district, which is still seeking teacher aides and another bus driver.
"We have staff pitching in to help fill those gaps," she said. "We will continue to focus on listening to building principals and teachers on what the needs are, and all of our staff need support as we move forward."