Sixth-grader Leslie Flores woke up her entire house on Monday morning in anticipation of the first day back. Standing in line to enter Cunha Intermediate School for the first time as a student, she was simultaneously excited and anxious. After more than a year of learning at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Flores was among the first intermediate and elementary students returning to in-person school this week.
At Cunha on Monday morning, loud music and eighth-grade leadership students armed with maps and friendly advice welcomed the morning cohort of sixth-graders. They are set to come to school four mornings a week, with Wednesdays set aside for asynchronous learning. Cunha seventh- and eighth-graders will return to classrooms within the month.
Lined up next to Flores was sixth-grader Indie Glafkides, who said she’s struggled over the last year to stay motivated amid the distractions of at-home learning. She already felt confused about how to navigate campus, but knew she’d catch on quickly.
“I’m excited to see my friends and to make new friends,” Glafkides said.
Outside Hatch Elementary School on Monday morning, interim principal Alyssa Jaramillo welcomed students through the balloon-adorned gates as families watched. The nervous energy abounded as transitional kindergarten, kindergarten and first-grade students got the chance to be back among their teachers and peers for a first day like no other.
Jaramillo said that after a run-through just before spring break, where students came to practice health protocols and meet their teachers, she feels prepared for this new phase of the year.
“It was an exciting snippet,” Jaramillo said. “They’re ready to get back in school.”
After this week, the remaining second- through fifth-grade elementary students will come back incrementally. Juniors and seniors will come back to Half Moon Bay High School on April 12, followed by freshmen and sophomores.
For some young students, it was their first day ever in a real classroom. Kindergartner Ariana Lara was nervous about starting in person after a full fall of at-home school, but was excited to meet her teachers and get back to learning her favorite subject, math.
Kindergartner Dino Lovelace was looking forward to a break from the monotony of at-home school. He went to Hatch for transitional kindergarten last year and knows the campus and some teachers, so he wasn’t sweating the first day back too much.
“I’ve been here before,” Lovelace said.
Across the Coastside, hundreds of students at four elementary schools would get their first glimpse of a new type of school, from behind masks and at a social distanced. Holding her daughter in her arms, Half Moon Bay resident Rachel Serrano felt relieved as she watched her son, who is now in kindergarten, walk onto the Hatch campus.
“It’s been a struggle,” Serrano said. “But we managed. Now I only have one to chase after all day.”