Some Wake County high school students return to classrooms Wednesday for first time since March 2020

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Some Wake County Public School System students will return to the classroom for the first time in a year.

Students on the traditional calendar start back Wednesday with all kindergarten through 3rd grade students in class and 4th-12th grade students on an hybrid rotation. Year-round calendar students returned to class Monday.

"I'm very excited to go back to school and get back with all the teachers and be in the classroom again and be able to be with students," said Enloe Magnet High School junior Jayden Morrison.

Morrison, along with all his classmates, underwent a COVID-19 screening and temperature check before entering the school building.

Once inside the students have to wear masks and adhere to social distancing restrictions.

To assist with the social distancing, only 220 students will be on campus at any given time and classes at Enloe High School will have no more than six students in person.

"Our teachers are teaching students both face to face, and in the remote setting," said Enloe High Principal Will Chavis. "So that's going to be a different change for our teachers and for our students."

Morrison said he's missed out on a lot not being in school for so long.

"It's been not being able to see the teachers and your friends," he said. "Through the computer, you don't really have the connection. You don't really have the interactions, as much so it's just like, it's been tough."

"We all know that the social, emotional needs of students need to be met for them to fulfill their academic needs," said Enloe High teacher Trudy Price-O'Neil. "So I definitely think that coming back in person will help to alleviate some of that. It's definitely been an issue. I would say for the most part I think my students have done very, very well."

The Lewis family hopes Wednesday is the day they can start to move out of the "Twilight Zone."

It is their son Howie's first time inside the classroom at Apex Friendship High School since March 2020.

Howie will just be back in rotations like other students in 4th through 12th grade.

"We're excited and he's ecstatic," Howie's mother, Cat, said. "He can hardly wait to get there. I guarantee you he'll be up early and it's always been a chore to get him up."

Wake County Superintendent Cathy Moore said Tuesday she feels confident they've done everything possible to create safe learning environments for students and staff to come back to.

"We can't fully prevent COVID-19 from coming into our buildings if COVID is in the community, but we can curtail its spread," Moore said.

The Lewises said they feel fortunate they haven't come into contact with the virus, but they have had a challenging situation not only with their son but also their daughter Anna.

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Some Wake County high school students are returning to the classroom for the first time since the pandemic began in March 2020.

She graduated in June in the midst of the pandemic from Apex Friendship and is now a freshman doing hybrid learning at Meredith College.

"It's just been very hard for the family," Cat said. "Time will heal. I have a feeling that's what I have to look forward to because I have to be hopeful. I can't be negative about this."

The board acknowledged that there will be hiccups but they need to see what environment looks like with more students back inside the classroom.

The school board also voted to put three more asynchronous days in the calendar this year. These are days for students and teachers to catch up.

Wake County staff members are hopeful this will give more balance to the student rotations.
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