SAHUARITA, Ariz. — Sahuarita Unified School District students are meeting their teachers not through a computer but inside of the classrooms Thursday.
Just before 7 a.m., students in masks arrived with supplies in hand ready to tackle the re-entry of a more traditional setting, even if it's for just two days a week.
“I was so excited. I couldn’t sleep last night knowing that for the first time since March 13th, I’m going to look out into my room and my kids are going to be there," said Michele Barton, a teacher at Sahuarita Intermediate.
Barton teaches fourth grade. She met her first group of students Thursday and will meet the rest on Monday.
“This year is a lot more focused on students' safety— being able to teach them how schools going to be different and how we have to be safer here at school,” she explained.
Less than a dozen filled her classroom and to maintain social distancing every other desk was empty.
The district began its hybrid teaching model with about 80 percent of its students. Superintendent Dr. Manuel Valenzuela said about 20 percent decided to learn fully online.
The first lesson didn't focus on subjects rather it stressed safety.
“With them wearing the masks, it’s new for them but I think they understand the importance of if we wear them and if we stay healthy and if we stay safe all of our friends can return to school,” she said.
Students also learned a new way of lining up to leave the classroom.
While adjusting to this new normal, the students seemed enthusiastic to be back. Barton shared that excitement.
She said she got into education to be around students and that's something she hasn’t been able to do for six months.
“Even though I couldn’t see their smiles, I could see their eyes. You know just finally walking into their classroom and finally seeing what does my classroom looks like and where has my teacher been for six weeks,” said Barton.
The district explained if there is an outbreak response would depend on who was infected and who was exposed. Those students and teachers would quarantine.
Tune in tonight at 6 p.m. for a look inside of the classroom.