GREENWICH, CT — Whether it was in-person or distance learning, students had a successful first day of school in Greenwich on Wednesday, according to school officials.
For many students, Sept. 9 marked the first time they could enter a school building since the spread of the coronavirus forced the district to shut down and move all students to distance learning in March. (To sign up for Greenwich breaking news alerts and more, click here.)
Under the district's reopening plan, elementary and middle school students were given the choice between face-to-face instruction or remote learning, both held five days a week. Meanwhile, high school students will operate under a hybrid model that will mix in-person and remote learning each week.
During a special meeting of the Board of Education held last month, Superintendent Toni Jones said nearly 20 percent of students enrolled in Greenwich Public Schools for the 2020-21 school year chose remote learning over face-to-face instruction. These students can also choose to move to in-person learning at any time.
Jones said Wednesday afternoon the district was "really excited" to welcome students back to school, both in-person and virtually, earlier in the day.
"We were delighted to see our students adhering to the mask and social distancing requirements," Jones said in an email to Patch, "and we were so grateful for the creativity from our staff to make this truly atypical year feel better for our students."
As an example, Jones said some staff members at Old Greenwich School painted small pictures of apples and pencils outside the school on the sidewalk to demonstrate proper social distancing while students waited outside.
Meanwhile, students at Western Middle School ate their lunch outside, taking advantage of having a mask break while safely social distancing in the nice weather, Jones said.
The superintendent also acknowledged the reopening presented some issues too.
"While we have a lot to be proud of, there are still challenges," Jones said. "We will need to get more school days underway to see how all of our scheduling works and to make any necessary adjustments. We are taking it one day at a time, partnering with our school leaders, teachers, and staff to hear any concerns they have, and we'll work together to address them as they come."
Jones said the district looked forward to hearing from parents, students and staff on what worked so far and what can be improved already, so they can continue to make this unique school year the best they possibly can for students.
Board of Education Chair Peter Bernstein was also optimistic about the start of the new school year despite any challenges.
"Today represents a return to school like no other, but even with all the uncertainty in the world there is excitement and hope," Bernstein said in an email. "Many things went well, and some were a little more challenging. As with every year, issues will arise and hopefully the district is nimble enough to deal with things as they happen."