Wawasee Schools open for in person classes
SYRACUSE, Ind. - Months of uncertainty. Months of surveys. Months of asking "what will the start of the 2020-2021 school year look like?" Those months are now over for Wawasee Community Schools as that district opened its buildings for its first day of school on Thursday.
"It has been exciting," said Superintendent Tom Edington. "The excitement just carries from the students through the staff, through the buildings after five long months that we are back together again."
Schools opened across the district with various safety guidelines in place. Students and teachers had to wear masks while maintaining six feet of social distance.
Students said the new rules and regulations did not hinder their experience in the classroom.
"You know, just have to wear the masks, but all my classes have been basically the same as they always have," said Wawasee High School Senior Tate Cowan. "A lot of them, I know if we're in class and there's a low number of students and as long as we're six feet apart, we can take off our masks and kind of focus on ourselves."
Teachers and administrators said they were nervous about what implementation of the new safety procedures would look like, but said the students took the initiative.
"As principal, you always kind of fear," said Wawasee High School Principal Geoff Walmer. "You fear. You've put all this preparation in, and you just wonder what that one thing is that's going to happen that, kind of, makes the day fall apart, and you are in panic mode the rest of the day, and, knock on wood, that hasn't happened."
Teachers felt the same worry and relief as well.
"There was a little apprehension, but I think for the most part the kids are looking out for each other, and they understand why it needs to be done," said Wawasee High School English Teacher Paula Fiscus.
Students said they were just happy to finally be back in school.
"It's a blessing," Cowan said. "I'm really glad we were able to come at all. Even though things are a little different, so far, it's still been great. I've still been able to talk to all my friends and all that stuff."
District leaders said outside of some teachers calling off for personal time conflicts, no substitutes were needed for the first day of school Thursday. No one called off because of Coronavirus concerns. District leaders also said they believe if things continue as they did Thursday, the district will wipe out any enrollment hit it took from the pandemic in a matter of weeks.