Benton Public Schools welcomes half of its students for first day of class

Local News

BENTON, Ark. – Benton Public Schools welcomed half of its kids back for the first day of school. They are one of the few districts in the state doing a phased-in learning approach.

From the squeak of the school bus, to the waves coming from teachers and administrators, you can feel the excitement of the first day of school at Caldwell Elementary. This year, however, looks a bit different. Caldwell Assistant Principal said it starts with their phased-in learning approach for the first two weeks.

“Monday’s and Thursday’s we have half the kids that come and then the other half will come on Tuesday’s and Friday’s. Wednesday’s we will have a virtual day just so everyone can practice being away from school,” Almond said.

While many teachers on their staff have years of experience, Almond said it’s a learning curve for everyone.

“No matter how many years you have we are all first-year teachers and first-year educators walking through this,” Almond said.

Rachel Wooten is one of those teachers, with nine years under her belt.

“Through all the emotion and the unknowns, I think us as teachers we’re just so glad that we actually can be back,” Wooten said.

Along with her normal first-day lesson plans, she also has to teach her students things like social distancing in the hallways using paw prints, how to wash hands, use hand sanitizer and most importantly how to keep track of their mask.

“We are going to start out today teaching kids clip your mask on and so that way if they are pulling their mask down to eat at lunch, their mask will stay clipped to their lanyard,” Wooten said.

While there are lots of new policies and still lots of unknowns, teachers and administrators said seeing the kids back in the halls made it all worth it.

“That one brings tears every time we talk about it. Just having those kids on campus, that’s the best,” Almond said.

This phase-in learning will last for the first two weeks. Administrators will make a decision on the rest of the semester before Labor Day.

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