RACINE — Racine Unified School District became the latest school district to welcome back some students to in-person instruction on Monday.
March 1 was the first day of RUSD's transition to in-person classes for the 57 percent of students who wanted to.
"They didn't let everybody come in at one time. They were taking them classroom at a time, so it seems like they got it pretty in control right now," said grandparent and guardian Pam Young.
Parent Jill Nunn said she appreciated the options for students. Her older son has been doing well with remote learning and will stick with it. However, her youngest struggles, so they opted to have him return to Knapp Elementary.
"It's important to know my kids are getting the best education they can. I came up in Racine Unified so I had my children coming up there as well, and I just want them to get the best that they can," said Nunn.
District officials said there were no major issues on the first day back. School leaders plan to review the transition and make any needed changes before the next wave of students returns.
"I think we're at a point now and the pandemic where kids and adults alike really understand the importance of wearing masks and following those safety protocols. So far so good - everything seems to be running smoothly," said Stacy Tapp, Chief of Communication and Community Engagement at RUSD.
At the same time, the district is collaborating with the city and Ascension to get more educators vaccinated. Tapp said about 600 members of their staff were able to get vaccinated as part of group 1A. She hoped with the next group, the district can help get a majority of the remaining staff their first shots in the next two weeks.
Angelina Cruz, the president of Racine Educators United, the local teachers union, said that effort, along with the school building safety plans approved by local public health officials, made her feel a little more comfortable about the return. However, she stressed that unknowns like the unpredictability of the virus and new variants are still concerning.
"At the end of the day, we just wanted to be as safe as possible both for ourselves and our colleagues, but also for our kids and their families. I think it's important to note it is really important that the transmission rate is falling, and so we don't want to endanger a shift in those numbers," said Cruz.
"The district has gone a long way in trying to ensure the CDC mitigation efforts can be followed, and that's something that's going to be a big part of my work in the next couple of weeks, along with my staff person and our building reps, to do building safety walks and assure that every building is as safe as possible," said Cruz.
Students from other grades will be phased in over the next few weeks.