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Nederland ISD parents, staff express excitement on 1st day of school

NEDERLAND — It’s been six months since Nederland ISD parents, teachers and students last stepped foot inside a school building.

Theresa Ramey waives cars through the drop-off line at Helena Park Elementary.

The onset of COVID-19 hit Southeast Texas in March and a devastating hurricane struck the region Aug. 27, but despite the delay and uncertainty, parents were ready to drop off their kids Tuesday morning with excitement for the first day back.

For Jessica Hill it was a particularly exciting day. Her youngest son, Walker, started kindergarten.

“It was definitely different,” Hill said. “There was some added stress to it, especially with one in kindergarten and not being able to walk him to his classroom. I certainly understand the procedure and am thankful that NISD is taking care of our children and making sure that they are safe. We’re excited to be back in school. We’re excited to have them back with their friends and in the loving care of the teachers here at Helena.”

Helena Park Elementary, along with all other NISD schools, started in-person instruction on Tuesday.

Principal Charlotte Junot said it feels amazing to finally see students again.

“This is something that we’ve been planning for,” she said. “With it being half a year since we’ve seen our students, that’s the heartbeat of our school, and we’ve missed them.”

An example of a Nederland ISD classroom shows desks equipped with shields and bottles of hand sanitizer.

Junot said everyone felt first-day jitters.

“Anytime you have the well being and health concerns of other people’s children you have that heightened anxiety or worry,” she said. “But at the same time, the anticipation and excitement of having the kids on campus is the main thing we focus on. That’s our why. That’s why we go into education. It’s all about the students.”

Although parents had the option to start the first six weeks virtually, many chose the path of in-person instruction.

Hill was one of those parents.

“They’ve been out of school for a very long time,” she said. “They’ve been without those relationships with their friends and other adults who are in charge of their education experiences. We wanted to make sure we got them back into that environment as quickly as possible.”

Principal Charlotte Junot stands next to a yard sign welcoming students to the first day of school.

A father to two NISD high school students felt the same.

Ryan Slott said he feels great about the first day of school.

“I think there are a lot of people out there with anxiety, but we are definitely excited to get the school year going,” he said. “We trust the work the school district has done.”

Slott said he is grateful for the opportunity to send his children, Camryn and Cooper, back to in-person instruction.

“For each parent, it’s different, but for us, we want them to learn the things they need to learn through an in-person environment,” he said. “There are things they just can’t learn virtually, like how to respect others, how to be kind and do the right thing. We think being on campus is the best choice for our kids.”

Slott said he feels safe with the district’s COVID-19 guidelines and procedures.

“Do I think things are going to pop up? Sure, but that’s not going to happen every single day,” he said. “Things are going to happen at school, just like kids get paper cuts or the flu, but we fully support our teachers, our coaches and our nurses to make the right choices. We are going to follow it day-to-day and if that changes, that’s OK. That’s just part of it right now.”