First week back for students ‘fantastic’

By Dave Taylor

Students finally returned to classrooms in Hancock County schools this week, albeit in divided groups on different days of the week, but the principals at all four schools describe the return in glowing, nearly hyperbolic terms.

“It’s been fantastic,” said Ashley Gorman, principal at Hancock County High School. “The kids are excited to be here, we’re excited to have them here.”

Students came in very prepared for what lay ahead, after months of planning by staff over the summer and weeks of prepping after virtual learning began in August. 

“It all went off without a hitch,” she said.

About 25 percent of high school students chose to remain virtual only, she said, and the remaining 75 percent were divided into two equal A/B groups.

“In a distanced format where we need to keep them all distanced, it works out really well because I can keep all kids distanced the way they’re supposed to be, doing A and B,” she said. “So essentially, if a student were to test positive, the way we’re able to do this on the A/B schedule is that no other students would be a contact of that student from school because we’re able to space them in every single classroom.”

“It’s gone really well here at the middle school,” said HCMS principal Traci Sanders. “It’s been awesome to have the students back in class. It’s good to see everyone again.”

About 20 percent of the middle school students remained virtual only, she said, and the rest have had no problems since they returned.

“We planned for this day for a while,” she said. 

At North Hancock Elementary, students have acclimated to big changes quickly, according to principal Kelly Moore.

“I think it’s surprising the kids have done so well,” she said. “As we all know, children are really resilient, so they’ve picked up very quickly on new procedures such as the one way hallways.”

They use the three Ws: wear your mask, wash your hands and watch your spacing, to keep kids reminded to be safe.

Only about 11 percent of North students chose to remain virtual, and the others are being spaced out in classes and during lunch, and using seating charts that follow students to different rooms.

“You know you just work a few kinks out and every day’s better than the day before,” she said.

At South Hancock Elementary, principal Jennifer Howe said they too have had no troubles.

“We had a fantastic first day,” she said. “The students showed up eager and ready to learn.”

“Our students proved they are quick learners to adapt to the new procedures,” she said. 

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