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Wakulla Students Return To Classes Amid Pandemic

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Robbie Gaffney
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WFSU-FM
Riversink students get off the school bus one by one. Staff reminds them to stay apart as they walk into the building.

As buses start rolling up to Riversink Elementary, kids aren't immediately let out. Instead, Principal Simeon Nelson climbs on board.

"I was explaining [to] them how we're going to social distance as far as when they get off, do my kindergarten[er]s first, second, third, fourth, fifth so when they come down I try to space them as they come down and I try to have them keep that spacing," Nelson says.

Most children at Riversink come off the bus wearing colorful masks, and Nelson compliments them. Masks are encouraged but not required for students. Free ones are available. Nelson says he hopes the compliments will encourage students to wear masks.

"I told all the teachers [to] compliment on the masks. That's an encouraging thing, so the kid that doesn't have it, we don't want him to feel bad, but for him, he will see and know they're recognizing and giving attention to that mask—he may put that mask on," Nelson says.

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Robbie Gaffney
Riversink students are guided to the building's entrance by school staff.

In a different part of the school, parents are dropping off their kids. Employees walk up to cars and take student's temperatures before they get out of the vehicle. Nelson says class would usually start at 9 a.m. But it's 9:30 and kids are still being dropped off. He says more parents are taking their kids to school this morning than having them ride the bus.

It's something the district expected says Wakulla County Schools Superintendent Bobby Pearce.

"We may realign our routing around some of our schools and do things a little bit differently to kind of speed things up so we can get our buses in and out and at the same time accommodate our parents," Pearce says.

Pearce says it's been a challenging time for families, but students seem glad to be back. And teachers seem happy to have them.