CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Public Schools students are back in the classroom after more than a year of remote learning.
Those first day of school jitters were on a whole new level this year after a year at home for students at William H. Ray Elementary, at 5631 S. Kimbark Ave. in Hyde Park. But students and parents told CBS 2’s Tara Molina they’re happy to be back in a classroom.READ MORE: 'An Important Time For Us': Chicagoans Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
Green and white balloon towers, masked smiles and a whole lot of energy marked the first day of school celebration welcoming back preschool through eighth grad students.
“It was a good day,” said second-grader Alfredo Garcia.
“My first day was good,” said fourth-grader Savion Jamison.
“Good!” said first-grader Camren Mason.
“The first day of school was nice,” said sixth-grader Kylie Howard.
A lot of students also agreed on the best part of the day.
“The best part was gym,” said second-grader Bronson Harris-Shaw.
“Gym. Doing the gym, because we get to play,” said third-grader Brooklyn Kimble.
“Going to gym! said Alfredo.
Grandmother Janette Arthur was in the pickup line early.
“I want them to be happy,” she said.
She said she is so happy to see her grandson Savion back in the classroom.READ MORE: Downtown Chicago Roadblocks Quell Mexican Independence Day Street Celebrations
“He kind of lost some of his imagination because he wasn’t around other people, other kids his age,” she said.
Savion was a little nervous at first.
“Kinda shy, but now I’m calm,” the fourth-grader said. “I’m happy to be back at school.”
And Molina heard no mask complaints after the seven hour school day.
“Because I’m kind of used to them,” said Bronson.
“We had a lot of fun,” said Afredo.
“I want them to enjoy school,” Arthur said. “School is supposed to be fun.”
CPS athletics also started up Monday, but all students fifth grade and up will need full vaccination or COVID-19 testing every week.
However, some parents are still pushing for more continued remote learning options. Right now, CPS is only allowing families with medical proof of need of that options to continue remote learning.
The Illinois Department of Public Health released the following statement:
Schools are required to report any positive cases to the local health department, which then enters it in to the state disease surveillance system. Outbreaks are reported in the Outbreak Reporting System, but may be delayed as public health officials are first focused on controlling the outbreak and conducting contact tracing, and then entering the data. Public health is working diligently to keep kids in classroom as safely as possible. Public health officials will work with school officials to identify close contacts and the need for quarantine for those individuals, as well as determine when a short-term closure is needed to control transmission. Contact tracing begins at the local level with the local health department. IDPH has offered surge assistance to local health departments for schools dealing with a large number of cases and/or an outbreak.
All schools should be implementing universal masking while indoors. Masking is one of the most effective way to prevent transmission, slow spread, and protect students and staff. Testing is a critical step to identifying as quickly as possible the introduction of COVID-19 into the schools so that spread can be limited if not prevented. IDPH encourages all schools to set up a weekly testing program, which will help protect students and reduce the amount of time they are out of the classroom, as well as reduce the amount of virus circulating in communities in general. Information and resources for testing are available on the IDPH website, as well as guidance. Collaboration with the LHD on identifying close contacts and adherence to isolation for ill and quarantine for close contacts is also an important mitigation step to keep schools opened.MORE NEWS: 'We're Back': Store Owner Reopens Chicago Sports On Michigan Avenue After 2020 Unrest