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East Helena begins first day of school

Posted at 12:39 PM, Aug 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-27 09:58:19-04

EAST HELENA — Wednesday, August 26th, 2020, marks the first day of classes for the new academic year for East Helena Public Schools. There's a lot of emotions going around. Here what some parents had to say when they dropped off their students for the first day of class.

"Kids need to be around kids. So I feel so much more relaxed, because, now I can also focus on work," says Hanna Carey as she drops off her child at Radley Elementary for the first day.

"I'm kind of excited. We'll see how it goes. I hope they don't have to close the schools again,” says Mandy Sammons, another East Helena parent. “I hope that there's no, I don't know, illnesses that go around that cause them to have to close down the schools because that disrupts everything."

Students gathered for their classrooms separately outside to maintain social distance. Teachers screened each student and took their temperature before entering class. The principal at Radley Elementary says these procedures are now a “work in progress.”

"We need our parents and guardians to be flexible and to remember that this is a work in progress,” says Joe McMahon, the Radley Elementary Principal. “We will lay out the best plan [Wednesday] that we have and it may need to be adjusted the next few days to make it work and we'll stay in communication with them."

East Helena plans to have the same group of students in one class all day for the week. Even when in recess, students must stay in a specific area. The Superintendent says this is a great, but cautious day.

"We're celebrating the first day like we always do, but it's different,” says Ron Whitmoyer, East Helena Public Schools Superintendent. “It's more cautious. We're doing our very best to take care of the kids that are right here in our school system so that this is one of the safest places they can possibly be."

For the first week of classes, the superintendent says the students will be taught all the COVID-19 protocols in the district including screening procedures and maintaining safety within classrooms.