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Kindergarten classs in the Genet band room

A Genet kindergarten class moved to the band room, which was the original kindergarten classroom when the school was built, to maintain the required social distancing with the increased number of students. Band classes were moved to the auditorium stage to make room.

It was a happy day for kindergarten students and their parents on Monday as the A Day students were joined by B Day students in school for the first time this year.

The two cohorts, which had been alternating in-person learning days due to COVID-19 restrictions and only seen each other through computers on Live Virtual Wednesdays, finally met each other face-to-face.

“The kindergartners were so excited to be together with the other half of their class today, and our teachers and staff did a great job planning special activities to help them smoothly transition,” said Red Mill Principal Helen Squillace. 

Student working at his desk

A kindergarten student works on an assignment at Genet Elementary School on Monday, March 1.

“The increased opportunities this will provide our youngest learners comes at a perfect time,” she continued. “The last few months in Kindergarten are important to children’s continued academic, social and emotional success. Our Kindergarten teachers cover a lot of ground in this first official year of school for children and the additional time they now have is welcomed by everyone.”

School administrators initially made plans for the full time return of kindergarten students back in October. However, COVID-19 infection rates started to increase and forced the district to postpone those plans. 

With the holiday surge winding down in February, the district revisited its plans to increase in-person learning and the Board of Education approved the return of full time kindergarten at its public meeting on February 10.

“Seeing the Kindergarten children together in classes was exciting for everyone involved, students, parents and staff alike!” said Superintendent Jeff Simons, who visited kindergarten classes in each of the five elementary schools on Monday. “Our teachers and support staff provided a warm and welcoming atmosphere to ensure the children felt comfortable and safe. You could feel everyone’s excitement in the schools. I am grateful for our principals and the efforts they made to pull this transition together successfully!”

Red Mill kindergarten students bowling in PE class

Red Mill kindergarten students bowling in Physical Education class on Monday, March 1.

As part of the plans to bring back kindergarten full time, students were able to stay with the teachers they have had all year and they still have all of their special classes such as physical education, art, music and library. Bus routes have also remained unchanged.

While some important adjustments were needed, such as moving a few classrooms to accommodate more students, repositioning desks and furniture, and, in a few instances, hiring additional teaching assistants to help cover classes, the teaching and learning continued in its normal fashion.

“It is great to have my class return to full time in-person learning!” said Genet kindergarten teacher Marie Chieco. “The students seem as though they have been together all year! They are really enjoying seeing and getting to know the students in the other half of our class. They are working well in the classroom and adapting quickly to having all of their classmates together. I look forward to seeing them continue to grow throughout the rest of the school year!”

And there was even joy at the end of the day, when Red Mill kindergarten teacher Lesley Ret said to her students, “I’ll see you tomorrow!”