Students and faculty are returning to classrooms for a full five-day week at many area school districts.
On Wednesday, a number of suburban districts, among them Waukesha, Wauwatosa, West Allis-West Milwaukee and Whitefish Bay, begin class for the 2021-2022 school year.
Levi Bzdusek, an incoming freshman at Whitefish Bay High School, said he’s “nervous” for the first day – not an uncommon feeling for students making the jump from middle to high school.
His mother, Kara Bzdusek, joked about letting her oldest head off to high school.
"I'm in denial right now. I'll touch base tomorrow and let you know,” she said as the two shopped for school supplies at Winkies in Whitefish Bay.
They both agreed they’re pleased learning is returning to a more “normal” model. A model, at least for now, that allows students to sit in a classroom Monday through Friday.
Nate Burrows, a senior at Whitefish Bay, was also shopping last minute for supplies.
“Even though we still have to wear masks, it’s not going to be the end of the world, because I can still see my friends back at school,” said Burrows.
That’s unlike his experience for much of 2020 and earlier this year, a mix of remote and in-classroom learning.
At West Allis Central High School, teachers have been preparing their classrooms.
“It’s been a really positive energy, like, it feels kind of like a family reunion almost,” said Carrie Hansen, a social studies and AVID teacher at Central.
Although schools have experimented with both remote and in-class learning, including up to four days a week in the spring, Wednesday’s return still marks a shift in the approach to teaching.
"So, it's kind of remembering some of those things, like, how many copies do I need, and all that kind of stuff has started coming back,” said Hansen.
Schools are also still taking precautions when it comes to health and safety as new cases of Covid-19 persist.
“We're going to stay safe and make sure we do the social distancing when needed, if needed,” said Dr. Antoine Reed, Central High School principal. “And we're definitely going to follow the mask mandate that is in place for our district right now."
West Allis-West Milwaukee, among other districts, are offering virtual academies for students and their families who would prefer to continue remote learning.
Milwaukee Public Schools will return a second wave of students for the fall semester on Thursday.