Students tread carefully into a new school year

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Bay Head Elementary School welcomed students back for the start of the 2020-2021 school year Sept. 8. (MARK R. SULLIVAN/THE OCEAN STAR)

BAY HEAD — A “Welcome Back” sign and colorful balloons greeted Bay Head Elementary School students Tuesday as they returned to class in-person for the first time since mid-March. But so did measures designed to protect them from COVID-19.

As students bid farewell to mom and dad and made their way to their designated locations with their backpacks strapped on and lunchboxes in hand while wearing colorful face coverings, they were greeted with temperature checks conducted by school officials.

“The day went so well, and despite the different routines, restrictions and wearing of masks, the staff and students returned as if we had practiced this for months,” Principal Frank Camardo said of the first day of school on Sept. 8. 

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“The students quickly found their new teachers and classrooms and began the first day with enthusiasm. Parents were so supportive and ensured all students had a mask and needed materials.

“Drop off and pickup were very organized, and went very well as this year kindergarten and first grade exit through the front along with a staggered dismissal of middle school, while grades 2-5 exit out of the back while standing behind their designated cones with classmates until their ride arrives.  

“The line up in the morning separates the K-4 students from 5-8, and all students had their temperatures checked without a problem while staying with their classmates/homeroom.”

According to the principal, lunchtime was not what students are accustomed to.

“Lunches were different for some grades this year, as some classrooms eat in the homeroom class while others utilize the cafeteria and the gym,” Mr. Camardo said.

“This was done so that classrooms can be cleaned immediately after the students eat, and the custodial staff has time to get all of the cleaning and sanitizing completed before moving to the alternate locations — gym, cafeteria.”

School staff members were pleased with how well students adapted to their new routines the first few days of school.

“This being my 16th year as a teacher in Bay Head School, it truly is unique and unlike any other that I have experienced in my 20 years as a teacher,” said Beth Fallivene, who is teaching second grade this year. 

“Students are wearing masks, getting their temperatures checked and constantly keeping their distance. While all of this is new to students and staff, what is not different is our excitement to be back at Bay Head School. While my students couldn’t physically see the smile on my face they could sense my excitement and I could sense theirs. 

“After spending all summer, wondering, worrying and planning, trying to figure out how and if students were going to be able to handle all of these new regulations, I was taken aback at how well they all handled it. My second graders … adjusted very well, very quickly. I am very proud of them for how well they adapted to all of the changes.”

This is an excerpt of the print article. For more on this story, read The Ocean Star—on newsstands Friday or online in our e-Edition.

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