USD 329 opens doors for first day of school

Published: Aug. 18, 2020 at 6:32 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Unified School District 329 students’ sported back packs, and masks, for the first day of school.

Wabaunsee High School juniors and seniors are excited to be walking the halls again, although they have to follow a mask mandate and be six feet away from their friends in class.

Senior Adam Miller said it’s unlike any year, but is happy to walk the halls.

“It’s way better than having to be on an IPad and having to see your friends over a zoom call even if you have to wear a mask,” he said. “It’s been pretty wacky to be honest with you. Just seeing all the barriers set up with the teacher’s desk and stuff, it’s pretty crazy. I never thought in a million years that my senior year would go like this but I’m just glad to be back.”

Jan Hutley, the Principal of Wabaunsee HS said, having students and faculty wear masks, having sanitation stations in classrooms and distancing students has been difficult, but safety comes first.

“No one hates the mask more than me and I think that helps me to understand them, but I’m willing to do it for them so, I think they should show the same kind of investment,” she said.

Special Education teacher Christian Ulsaker said the first day is helpful as the district moves forward.

“I understand that we are a smaller district so it would be difficult for any 5A or 6A school to do that with us social distancing aspect, but it’s a good trial run, I’m not saying that that’s exactly what it is but it’s good to see if this does work and if it doesn’t then we can tweak things and figure what does and doesn’t work,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it’s more difficult, it’s just an added thing that a teacher has to do. It was a struggle at the beginning but I think as you just get used to doing it, it should be fine. I’m just happy the kids are able to come to school,” he said.

Hutley and Ulsaker said the students have followed the requirements.

“I’ll tell you, so far so good to be honest, I’ve seen some students who are acting very mature today and I think sometimes when you lose something, it brings to light how important that is to you and I don’t think they want to risk being out of school,” said Hutley.

Ulsaker said, “It seems like people want a routine. People don’t do well when they don’t know or have a goal set for the day. I know I’m that way. So kids have a set routine that they’re doing and understand what needs to be done and I think that kind of brings them joy. I don’t know in 2-3 months they have to do homework and stuff, if that will be the case but, as of right now, it really seems like they enjoy themselves.”

Miller is ready to get back to normalcy, as he plays football for the high school.

“It’s been hard but I think a lot of the guys that have bought in and the girls they’re working really hard too so, I feel like everyone is buying in and they are kind of accepting what we have to do play cause that’s all we really want to do,” he said.

Hutley hopes for the same.

“It’s all of us. I’m not just asking you to do anything that I’m not willing to do on your behalf or for you. I want to see you here and I want to see you play sports and I want to see you in activities and the way to do that is to do our very best to follow the protocol that people have put out and said is the safest way.”

The freshman and sophomores first day will be tomorrow, Wednesday. The juniors and seniors will work remotely.

They will come together and all be in the school on Thursday for the first time of the school year.

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