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Anchorage kindergarteners head back to class

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 7:01 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The first day of kindergarten is always a big deal and for many Anchorage students, Tuesday was that day. At Creekside Elementary in East Anchorage, parents snapped pictures and said goodbyes as their mostly 5-year-olds headed off to class.

Niki Boone’s daughter Elliot was one of them.

“She’s my last kindergartener,” Boone said. “And it’s exciting and sad at the same time.”

Marcianna Douglas was seeing off her first child, Jade. Douglas had concerns about what the school year might bring.

“Just the whole COVID situation,” she said. “I mean there’s no vaccination for children, so it’s kind of up in the air right now, but education is more important.”

COVID-19 is on the minds of all educators, but long-time kindergarten teacher Kelley Carpenter said she for one was glad to start the school year with students back in class, especially considering last year.

“I feel really blessed to have them in-person,” Carpenter said. It was really limited, we did the best that we could, but it was the hardest teaching experience I’ve ever had. Trying to teach online and keep them engaged and make connections with them, especially when they’re 5. So I’m really very happy that they’re here in person.”

Anchorage elementary students returned to in-person class in mid-January of 2021, but there are changes this school year. Barriers are gone, students are learning in groups and subjects like physical education and art are back on. Students are expected to wear masks in indoor spaces, with the exception of those eating in the lunchroom.

Creekside Principal David Christal said students have assigned seating in the cafeteria and tables that normally hold 18 students now have just six places. He explained that spacing students out will keep the number of close contacts smaller if someone tests positive for COVID-19.

Christal said his goal is keeping students safe but also learning in school, “because we know that that’s how they learn the best.” He said it was important to get the youngest students off to a good start.

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