Local News

Wake County students, teachers embrace 'return to normalcy' in classroom homecoming

Posted February 17, 2021 1:37 p.m. EST
Updated February 17, 2021 5:49 p.m. EST

— Millbrook High School Principal Dana King was among a group welcoming students back on Wednesday, doing the best she could given the restraints of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Millbrook, teachers and administrators were waiting outside holding signs that said, "Welcome home."

"This is school spirit the best way we know how," King told WRAL News. "Look at the children. Look at how happy they seem. They all were so desperate to get back here, and I kept reminding them - it’s not the school they knew, but we’ve got this and we’re going to be fine."

Thousands of Wake County students on the traditional calendar made their way back to class on Wednesday for the first time in nearly a year. Many were excited while others had conflicting emotions.

'Welcome home' freshmen

"It’s kind of mixed feelings," one Millbrook High student said. "Of course I want some type of normalcy. I’m so glad to get the opportunity to come back, but then it’s also like I was comfortable at home!"

Students who are enrolled in the district's Virtual Academy will continue learning from home. The Wake County School Board approved changing this semester’s schedule by adding three additional asynchronous days.

King said the biggest challenge for the day was lunch. A meal was delivered to classrooms with teachers and administrators advising students to remove their masks and not talk as much so not to spread the virus.

"It's going to be weird initially," King said.

Millbrook teacher Brynn Cartier was glad to see things get back to normal, somewhat.

"We're excited to be back and have some kind of normalcy in our schools," said Cartier, who expressed concern that many teachers are not yet vaccinated. "I think we've done a great job keeping class sizes small as far as that's concerned."

Monica Nichols, the parent of a third, fourth and ninth grader, described the return as a "major relief." "Emotionally, it hurt them more staying home," she said.

"I really wouldn't understand why," said Nichols when asked about the possibility of the district having to go back to remote learning. "I have friends and family in different states who've been in school since September and no issues with football games and soccer."

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