This past week marked the first time since last March that most Racine Unified students were able to physically return to their schools if their families choose to.
That is essentially an entire year physically out of the classroom — something that is hard on children, parents and teachers alike.
Racine Unified made the right call reopening schools and giving families the choice to return. Many families opted to continue having their children learn from home virtually, while others returned to the classroom.
The important thing was that families were given a choice and reactions were positive.
“My daughter probably hasn’t smiled like that in a long time,” said Joyce Gandy, whose daughter is a second-grader at Red Apple Elementary.
Similarly, Nicole Jacobson said of her son, “His attitude already changed after one day.”
Granted school is not the same as it was a year ago. Students and teachers have to wear masks and social distancing makes certain activities much harder to do.
But with schools physically open, students can see their friends and teachers. Going to school in-person there is no option to turn off the Zoom video function. A teacher can see students so there are no more 10 a.m. video games.
Likewise parents can try to go back to some level of normalcy and in some cases return to a job they may have had to leave to stay home for the year. While many employees have been able to work from home, not everyone had a job that allowed that.
While it was important to keep everyone safe, having kids home for an entire year was stressful for families and lonely for kids.
With vaccines getting into the arms of teachers locally and all around the state and nation, the hope is that before long teachers can see their students smile without masks and students will be able to sit right next to each other – not six feet apart and share crayons or books. Until then, welcoming back students in-person was the right move.