Despite Changes Teachers, Students Excited for Year After First Day of School in Superior District

Half of Northern Lights Elementary School started Tuesday while the rest have their first day on Thursday.

SUPERIOR, Wis.- Some kids in Superior got back to their classrooms Tuesday as the academic year began for the Superior School District. Many students started the year in a hybrid of in-person and virtual learning.

At Northern Lights Elementary School hybrid learning students with the last names A through L went back to school Tuesday, while the remaining students’ first day will be Thursday.

As part of the Hybrid model all students learn from home Wednesday, and all come back to school Friday.

“It just felt really good to be back in the classroom with my kids in-person and seeing their faces and working with them,” said 3rd Grade in-person teacher Brianna Sislo.

Parents stood socially distanced on the grounds of Northern Lights, waiting for their kids to finish a first day of school like no other.

“Throughout the last couple weeks when I’ve had a little bit of ‘oh boy, can I do this?’ type of thing,” Kindergarten Virtual Teacher Jodie Rudnicki said. “And this is a big undertaking but I’ve also had excitement all day.”

Many classrooms were spaced out and plexiglass divided some desks to keep students safe.

Students have also each been given one breakaway lanyard with a clip, so they don’t lose their masks playing during recess. Teachers were also encouraged to have class time outside.

Anything to get that face-to-face education again, said Sislo.”It feels really good to be back in that school routine, back in our building seeing each other just passing one another and sharing that time in-person.”

“Do we have some new procedures that we need to learn this year and some things that we need to do differently and things that we will probably have to change? Yes. But that’s true with every year,” she said.

Meanwhile other classrooms sat empty except for the teachers, as they taught classes virtually.

According to Rudnicki, this year’s virtual model was more structured than the rushed transition they went through last spring — and parents have a big hand in their child’s education.

“We’re still getting everyone together we’re still getting our morning meeting together or whatever little activity that I have going on we’re going it together, and then I will send them off with their parents,” said Rudnicki, explaining how she’s not online with students the whole day.

“So it’s a lot of back and forth so we really need a big commitment from the parents,” she said. “And I’m giving them all the kudos to be able to do this.”

In case there needs to be a quick transition to at-home learning for all, the district provided devices to every student this year.

Kindegarten through second graders will be assigned a Microsoft Surface device, and students from 3rd grade to high school get an HP Laptop.

Despite the pandemic casting a shadow over the year, at the end of the day kids left the building smiling — filled with first day thrills and itching for more.

“They’re just really really happy to be back and seeing their friends, seeing their teachers,” said Sislo.

And after the first day, Rudnicki said she’s ready for a great year ahead. “It’s really fun after that after this first day that that excitement is there and I know we’re gonna do it, we’re gonna be great.”

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