Students face new COVID-19 procedures as in-person classes resume in Harnett, Johnston counties

LILLINGTON, N.C. (WTVD) -- On the first day of in-person learning in Harnett and Johnston counties, students entered a very different looking school house.

For example, at Lillington-Shawtown Elementary School, yellow and black tape direct students and staffers to stay to the right of the hallway. Other stickers plastered throughout the school remind students to stay six feet apart and wear their mask.

"I've been telling the kids how quiet it has been in the hallways. I'm just happy they are all back," said Natasha Brown, who is a guidance counselor at Lillington-Shawtown Elementary School and a parent of two students. "I wish there were more in the classrooms, but we'll take what we can get for now.

Inside the kindergarten classroom, desks are spaced six feet apart. Students and staffers are required to wear masks all day. Kindergarten teacher Megan Keith said it has been a challenge teaching her students remotely.

WATCH: Gov. Cooper decides to allow elementary schools to open full-time
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Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday told school districts across the state they will soon have the option of opening elementary schools for full time in-person learning.



"I can't always see what they're seeing or doing on the iPad, because they are miles away at their house. It's definitely easier to teach them in person. I can see their faces and see if they aren't getting it. It's the first day and they're doing really good today," said Keith.

Hand sanitizer stations are also placed inside each classroom. Students are returning on a hybrid A/B schedule--meaning one group is in-person Monday/Tuesday; another group is in-person Thursday/Friday; and both groups are remote Wednesday--as staffers clean the buildings.

If students scheduled to be in-person have a fever, there is a student health isolation pod, also known as the ship room.

"We know the reality is if a student or staff member comes up positive with COVID-19, we have measures in place that require quarantine," said Harnett County Schools Superintendent Dr. Aaron Fleming.

SEE ALSO: Johnston County Public Schools to stagger fall semester reopening for elementary students

It's also the first day back for students in Johnston County. Between the two districts, a total of almost 11,000 students opted to return to the classroom during the COVID-19 pandemic--that's about 20 percent of the total students in the districts.

Fourth grader Taylor Brown shared her favorite part of returning to school with her friends.

"Learning, math, recess and lunch," said Brown.
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