For the first time since Nov. 16, Montezuma-Cortez School District’s students returned to the classroom Wednesday for in-person learning.
While a strong emphasis has been placed on student safety, there was an undeniable sense of joy as teachers and students reconvened.
Audrey Wierda, a family and consumer sciences teacher at Montezuma-Cortez High School, was glad to be back with her students.
“Not seeing students was challenging,” Wierda said. “Part of being a teacher is that reward you get from seeing students and working with them individually to see how they improve and grow during the year.”
All students are required to wear face masks in school buildings and on buses. This now includes students from kindergarten to fourth grade as well.
Other safety measures include seating charts for social distancing, hand-washing and extensive sanitizing by schools’ janitorial staffs.
For Mesa Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Lisa Mendoza, Wednesday was an opportunity to hit the ground running and make up for lost time with students.
“Nothing can really replace in-person learning.” Mendoza said. “It’s just so hard to replace a school day.”
While teachers and administrators appreciate the innovations that allow for online learning, they also acknowledge that some gaps in learning might have developed while students were at home.
According to Montezuma-Cortez School District Superintendent Lori Haukeness, an advisory committee will soon be formed to make recommendations on how to address the learning gap issue this year.
Despite the challenges, Haukeness believes the first day back was an overall success.
“Teachers are pleased to be back with the students, because that’s where they want to be.”