Burlington School District Superintendent Tom Flanagan said months of planning made for a smooth first day back to school Tuesday

He said the vast majority – 90-95 percent — students at Champlain Elementary and Rice Memorial High School returned for in-person instruction. “It really felt like we were just coming back to school,” Flanagan said.

Regardless of age or grade, many students said they were most excited to reunite with their friends and classmates.

“(I was) super excited because I absolutely love school,” said Champlain Elementary student Khiara Depolo, a third grader who was enjoying class outside.

Along with outfdoor classes, Champlain Elementary is also offering a variety of learning options, including hybrid, remote learning and a four-day week for international special-needs students.

Ashley Gangoye, a 5th grader, said her favorite part of the day was “learning and seeing my friends. And she wasn’t the only one who couldn’t wait to start his senior year.

“I think the most challenging thing was the social aspect,” said David Wendeln, a senior at Rice Memorial High School. “I literally didn’t see my friends for like three or fourths until things opened up again,”

The soccer player – who will now need to play in a mask – likes how his school is practicing safety, from temperature checks to one-way hallways to sanitizing desks every period.  

“I actually walked into one of the first period classes and a number of the students said, ‘Ms. Lorenz, it is so good to see you. We are so happy to be back,'” said Rice Memorial High School Principal Lisa Lorenz. “They used the words grateful and blessed is the language they used.”

Lorenz says students will attend a four-day week and go remote on Wednesdays to allow for cleaning. Lessons will also be recorded and live-streamed for international students.

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