Shelby County parents reflect on first day of school during pandemic

Local News

HELENA, Ala. (WIAT)– Thursday was the first day of in-person learning for Shelby County students with last names beginning with A-J.

Many parents say they have been weighing their options between virtual only schooling or sending their student back to the classroom. Additional safety protocols are in place to protect students and teachers from contracting and transmitting COVID-19.

Most students are wearing masks, social distancing is being practiced in the classroom, teachers are encouraging extra hygiene practices, and only students and faculty are allowed inside the building.

At Helena Elementary School, several kindergartners started school for the first time and parents weren’t able to walk their child to class. Charissa Carnall said it was difficult watching her daughter walk in alone, but she felt better in the pickup line seeing her child come out smiling.

“She was so excited and showing me things that she got today,” Carnall said. “I’m at ease and the school is doing an incredible job.”

Helena Elementary School Principal Mary Anderson says it took a lot of preparations to get ready for the school day and several teachers didn’t leave until late Wednesday night getting ready for students.

Anderson said she is happy with how the first day went.

Students with last names beginning with K-Z start back Friday.

Brooke Smith said she excited to send her four daughters to the classroom. For Smith, virtual learning was tough when schools closed in March, so that wasn’t an option for her this coming school year.

“At this age group, they need physical, hands-on type learning and social interaction, so that’s what I want for them,” Smith said.

Smith said she likes that school is starting back with students going only two days a week, slowing down the process for her kindergartner.

Carnall said social interaction also played a role in deciding to send her daughter to the classroom.

Many parents across social media are still discussing their options for the upcoming school year. Anderson said for her school, they’ve been consistently speaking with parents and doing their best to answer all parent phone calls and questions on social media. Carnall said the communication has helped keep her at ease.

Anderson shares this advice for parents who are still on the fence.

“You got to do what you think is right and what is best for your family.”


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