SPRINGFIELD PUBLIC SCHOOLS PHOTO

Parents and children renewed the time-honored tradition of school drop-offs across the southern Willamette Valley this week.

Guy Lee Elementary students and parents alike prepared for the return of in-person schooling on Feb. 4. Only kindergarten and first graders entered their classrooms today, with other grades beginning this week.

At Creslane Elementary in Creswell, kindergarteners started in-person learning on Feb. 9, and principal Amy Halley said “they did fantastic.”

At this time, the limited in-person guidance allows for Creslane to return to in-person instruction in groups of 20 students or less, for two hours maximum at a time.

The push to return to on-site instruction is fueled by student engagement and learning needs. Teachers began preparing their students for in-person instruction by enforcing mask-wearing even while distance-learning last week, said Adrienne Pierce, who is the assistant principal for Guy Lee. 

“I think the hardest part of today is the fact that our littles are going to be sitting in a space for a longer period of time,” Pierce said. “Our teachers have spent the last week reteaching (students) our expectations and what it’s going to be like when they step into the building.”

After giving parents a final hug, students were instructed to stand on the blue dots painted on the concrete outside as they waited to be led into their respective classrooms. 

EMMA ROUTLEY/THE CHRONICLE

Creslane Elementary School principal Amy Halley helps direct traffic as students, teachers and administrators worked out logistics around a return to in-class programs this week in Creswell.

Doors open at 8:20 a.m. and begin with an outside visual health screening for symptoms. Students then grab a sack lunch and are escorted to their classrooms for breakfast, and lessons start at 9 a.m.

Guy Lee kindergarten mom Leslie Mclees said her daughter Ramona hasn’t seen her friends since September 2020, and is excited to return to in-person learning.

“I have a 3rd grader too who has been really struggling,” Mclees said. “It really helps me with child care and work, it’s really awesome.”

Halley said that Creslane parents found the schedules inconvenient, but they are grateful to have their kids back in school for any amount of time. 

Creslane students first line up on markers outside of the entrance building to be checked in and given a name tag. Then they are escorted inside where they have their temperature taken and are given hand sanitizer. First graders begin school on Thursday, and other grades will be added to the schedule in following weeks.

“We’ll go slow so we can go fast,” Halley said.