By STEELE HAUGEN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Bend-La Pine kids are back in school and Redmond will be following suit soon.
Students are also back on campus and in classrooms in Madras.
Madras High School junior Anna Park said online classes were draining.
“Online school kind of hit me like a truck,” Park said.
“That definitely had a toll on my mental health and I think that I am still trying to recuperate from that, but being back will help hopefully,” added park.
Students like Park arrived this morning, finding several COVID safety protocols in place.
“I think it is going to take some getting used to, but I am just glad to be back,” Park said.
Principal Brian Crook says each grade is divided into four sections of the school.
“We have four entry points for our students, each grade level has a specific entry point,” Crook said.
Students don’t leave their pods, instead, the teachers are the ones who travel to different rooms.
“Our teachers move from class to class and our students stay in class,” Crook added.
Lunch is a different process and perhaps the biggest challenge, according to dean of students and teacher Allen Hair.
“When you have 500 kids, how are you going to have them sit, keep them socially distanced and safe?” Hair said.
Hair and several other staff members decided to have two different lunches, plastic barriers, and have the students socially distanced on the gym bleachers.
“I’ve been teaching for 26 years and I think I was more nervous today then I’ve ever been just because of all the protocols and all of the effort that has gotten to this point, but it’s great to see the kids again,” Hair said.
Several students said school is nothing like before.
“It’s totally different,” said MHS senior Jacob Hulsey. “Trying to learn how to go to school again, I guess.”
Whether you are at a desk or standing in front of the class, today was a big moment.
“That’s why I got into teaching,” said business teacher Jerry Shaw. “I did not do it to sit behind a computer. I did it to try and mentor, build relationships with student and have them reach heights they never knew they could.”
For students like Park, it’s finally a step in the right direction.
“I think this is kind of the first step to having a normal year next year,” Park said.