What did the first day of school look like in March? A little different—but still celebratory

The Long Beach Unified School District reopened its elementary school campuses on Monday, 380 days after they closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. During much of the closure, social media has been a contentious place, with lots of venting, frustration and dueling opinions about whether it was safe to bring kids back to school.

Some of those debates and heartache among students left out are continuing, but on Monday much of the city celebrated—albeit in a physically distanced way—with Twitter, Instagram and Facebook flooded with images of some of the 14,000 students who returned to campus.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and California Gov. Gavin Newsom pointed out that Long Beach is the largest school district in the state so far to open up a large portion of its campuses.

Superintendent Jill Baker toured several campuses and live-tweeted her experiences and conversations with students. It was a significant day for Baker as well. The first woman to serve as superintendent of the LBUSD, Baker was officially hired almost a full calendar year ago, but Monday marked the first time in her tenure as superintendent that campuses were open.

Other LBUSD elementary schools and principals posted about the joy they saw at their gates as they opened to students once again.

Now that about half of its elementary schoolers are back in class, the LBUSD plans to reopen middle schools on April 20. High school seniors will be allowed to return to class on April 19 and grades 9 through 11 on April 26. Most high schoolers have opted to keep learning from home to finish out the year, while about half of all middle schoolers are returning to class.

 

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