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Kindergartners’ face unique first day of school
Tricia Reiser

A kindergartner’s first day of school is an important milestone, but what will that day be like this year, in this time of pandemic? Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education members asked administrators about that last week.

“We are working through that,” Superintendent Khris Thexton said. “We’ve already put that charge on the elementary principals to put together some kind of ‘first day’ with kindergartners.”

One scenario he envisioned has students and parents meeting outside the classroom. “The teacher can welcome everybody with the parents there and then the kids all go inside. The parents are there to see them walk in — it could be something like that,” he said.

Kindergartners will ease into the school routine by only attending for half a day on the first two days.

This year’s experience will involve COVID-19 safety measures such as carrying personal water bottles and wearing masks, added to the usual challenges of going to school for the first time — or being a parent leaving a student at the school for the first time.

“That is a very real concern,” Director of Teaching and Learning Tricia Reiser said. “Our kindergarten teachers love their kids, and they really are pretty in tune to the developmental appropriateness of what it’s going to look like. So I think they’ve got it covered. And we’ll take care of those kiddos,” she said.

“We’re working on some messaging that’s going to go out to parents about what kids can expect when they come to school, so parents can help prepare their kids for what they’re going to see.”

Teachers have suggested that parents might want to help small children get used to seeing and wearing face masks before the first day of school. 

School board member Don Williams said small children seem to be able to adapt to wearing masks. “I’ve seen them at Walmart – families with little kids, all wearing masks.”

Board member Deanna Essmiller said this year will be different for first-graders as well. In some ways, they will almost be kindergartners. They’ll have to pick up anything they didn’t learn in kindergarten when the schools closed early last semester. “I can’t wrap my head around it,” she said. “They haven’t been there since March.”