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Watertown brings K-6 hybrid students back to school

Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 9:45 AM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - It’s May 6 and teachers at Watertown schools say it feels like the first day of school. That’s because city schools are back in session, in person, full-time, with masks and social distancing.

Beth Castilleja’s kindergarten class at Sherman Elementary school is learning in class, all together, for the first time.

“Looking fabulous,” she told her students.

The Watertown City School District brought about 1,500 K-through-6th grade hybrid learners back to the classroom, 5 days a week, beginning Thursday.

Judy VanNostrand’s 6th grade students are practicing their vocabulary, while also getting to know classmates - some they’ve only met through a computer screen before now.

“It was like the first day of school, seeing a bunch of new faces for the first time,” said student Ella Bowman.

“I’m very excited and very glad that everyone can be back in school together,” said student Kellen Timourou.

Teachers and faculty decorated the halls to make the kids feel welcome. They too, are happy to be back.

“It finally feels like a real school year, and I think the kids are excited to feel like they are a part of a school family again,” said VanNostrand.

The in-person learners will sharpen their skills from their classrooms for the next 6 weeks.

Superintendent Patti LaBarr says this schedule change takes the district one step closer to bringing all 4,000 students back.

“We still have students that are fully remote and we want them back in school, too. That will truly be the best day ever when we have all of our students back in person,” she said.

LaBarr hopes that happens in September.

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