DEPEW, N.Y. (WKBW) — Students in Depew are heading back to school this week, but it's a slow start. They're doing a soft re-opening for the first two weeks to get students acclimated to the new changes.
"I think we definitely have excitement, kids have not been in school for almost 6 months, so there's that level of excitement," said Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Rabey.
Only the students who opted for hybrid learning in the Depew Union Free School District will report to class as part of the soft reopening. That's because the district wants to take this time to make sure the students who are coming back into the buildings really understand the changes the schools are making.
Here's how the plan works. From September 9-18 students and staff are focusing on safety protocols and procedures, building relationships, establishing flows of communication and instruction, technology access and training and other activities to get students used to the new normal. Depew's superintendent says this period is crucial.
"Everyone just has to experience coming back, we all have to take time to get acclimated into the new environment and i can assure you that once you come in and experience school again for a couple of days, you'll get into your new normal," said Dr. Rabey.
90% of students in the district opted for hybrid learning. To make sure that every student is able to maintain social distancing and gets the amount of instruction they need, the district is breaking hybrid learning students into two groups.
- Students with last names beginning with the letters A through L will start in-person on Sept. 9
- Students whose names start with M through Z will be in the classroom on Sept 10
- The groups will alternate days from then on
The first day class instruction for all students, remote and hybrid, will be Monday, September 21st.
Obviously, this year is off to a very different start for all students, so some of the older students are going the extra mile to make some of the younger kids feel right at home.
"We're really excited about seeing the kids, the teachers are over the moon, ready to welcome back their students to give them the best possible learning experience they can when they see them," said Dr. Rabey.
Students made chalk art outside the school with positive messages. The kids who drew that chalk art are student leaders, upperclassmen that help underclassmen transition into the new year. They've been decorating the school for the past two weeks to help kids feel comfortable and excited to be back.
Those student leaders held a welcome back ceremony as students arrived, where they clap for all the students coming into school.