HENRICO SCHOOL, Va. -- Tuckahoe Elementary School was buzzing with excitement Monday morning, as some elementary students returned to their classrooms for in-person learning.
Henrico Schools planned to give students the option to return to their buildings in phases by grade level, beginning with pre-K through second grade this week. Return to in-person learning will be expanded to all students by March 8.
"For all of us involved, it is an exciting time," said Henrico Schools Spokesperson Andy Jenks. "Because this is the option that a lot of students and families and teachers, frankly, have been asking for. They want to get back to what is most familiar and most effective, in their opinion for all kinds of families. And we want to make that happen too. So, we're excited."
Alsuin and her daughter Aoife joined the long line of families waiting to drop off their pre-K though second graders outside Tuckahoe Elementary School Monday.
"We are excited because it is Aoife’s first day back in first grade," said Alsuin. "We just felt like it was the right thing to do."
She said safety measures being taken and reassurance from the principal, led her to make the decision to allow Aoife back in school.
"We feel confident sending her back, and she’s so excited to get to see her teacher and to get to see her classmates in person."
Jenks said the district was prepared for students to arrive Monday -- with stocked disinfecting supplies and protective barriers for each student.
There will be plexiglass or plastic barriers on all of our desks at all grade levels," Jenks said.
In addition to that, each student returning would be required to wear a mask, and parents were asked to complete a daily self-screening each morning.
Still, some families opted to keep their children home.
Laurette Turner has three grandchildren in Henrico County Public Schools. Two of her high schoolers were set to return to the classroom in the coming weeks, but her youngest continued virtually Monday.
"The one in pre-K, this is her first year. So, she is enjoying what she's doing online. She doesn't quite understand yet, the importance of being socially and intellectually active," said Turner.
As for the two returning to the classroom, Turner said she understood the importance of in-person learning but still worried it could put her and other families at risk.
"That's my biggest concern, bringing something home when the teachers are going to be vaccinated, but the parents or the grandparents are not," Turner said.
Jenks said as of Friday, about 6,000 Henrico Schools employees had received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and within two weeks, he said those 6,000 should receive their second and final dose.
Click here for more information from Henrico County Public Schools expansion of in-person learning.