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Alden middle & high school students return to all in-school learning

“It feels amazing"
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Posted at 5:27 PM, May 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-19 17:27:52-04

“Very exciting for sure — seeing everyone — you know it's a good feeling,” declared Luke Drew, Alden High School senior.

For the first time in months, 7th though 12th graders in the Alden Central School District were finally able to return for all in-school learning — no more hybrid or cohort groups.

“I’ve have been waiting for this day for 14 months — to see all of these kids back in school,” responded Mary Jo Schaefer, teacher. “A feeling of euphoria!”

“The students — they were ecstatic,” remarked Adam Stoltman, superintendent, Alden Central Schools.

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Adam Stoltman, superintendent, Alden Central Schools.

Students, teachers and the superintendent are thrilled to be back, ending months of hybrid, remote learning.

“It’s a sense of relief. It's a sense of celebration for these students, our faculty staff and quite honestly, all the employees of Alden Central School District that have worked so hard over the course of the last 13 months,” Stoltman noted.

7th through 12th graders finally returned Wednesday joining students in K-through 6 who recently returned fully.

Now with lower transmission rates it's back to normal class schedules for middle and high school students — something they have not been allowed to do for months because of COVID.

“It’s a wonderful day. I feel like it's my first day of my teaching career. It's wonderful to see everybody back,” reflected Schaefer.

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Mary Jo Schaefer, Alden High School English teacher.

Schaefer, high school English teacher, says it brought tears to her eyes to see students return Wednesday morning as one school community.

“For the social, emotional learning and for the academic learning — they really need to be here five days a week — this is just wonderful — it's a wonderful day,” replied Schaefer.

“If felt much different then even the first day of school,” Stoltman stated. “We’ve got 95 percent of our students back — back to 100 percent, in-person learning, five days a week.”

Students must still abide by those social distancing guidelines and wear their masks.

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Alden High School students remain three feet apart in classrooms with face masks.

“Schools from now until the end of the school year will maintain the mask wearing at three feet of distance,” explained Stoltman.

But the superintendent says students are getting mask breaks and can remove masks at lunch.

“Six feet is still in place for lunches, so as you can see as you walk through our cafeterias and our hallways you can see desk and tables set up — so students can eat safely six feet apart,” Stoltman said.

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Alden High School students during lunch.

Stoltman says it was important to bring students back fully before the school year ended.

“We take the element of doubt off the table for the months of July and August in preparation for September — nobody is wondering what if or is it going to work,” Stoltman described.

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Luke Drew, high school senior.

Seniors, like Drew, are just about five weeks away from graduation, so seeing all his classmates together is very meaningful.

“You don't really realize how many people you don't see — when we're back full time now — I’m like jeez I haven't seen this person in over a year,” commented Drew.

“What's the best part for you?” Buckley asked.

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Two Alden High School students connect in hallway.

“The best part is — honestly — just walking the halls and seeing my friends who I haven't seen in a while, so that's definitely the best part,” replied Drew. “It feels amazing.”