Parents and educators from Wayne-Westland Community Schools react to in-person learning resuming

Students meeting one another online beforehand made first day easier, parents say

It is like the first day of school all over again as many Metro Detroit students return to in-person learning.

This is all part of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s plan to get students back into the classroom, but it has not been without controversy.

At one local school the staff is fully vaccinated for COVID-19. However, that is not enough to prevent some first day butterflies.

Every district is doing it differently and Kelly Michaels, the principal at Hamilton Elementary School in the Wayne-Westland Community School District will tell you she knows that only ice cream trucks make everyone happy.

More: Wayne-Westland school staff vaccinated ahead of return to in-person learning

Related: Detroit public schools officially announce March 8 return to in-person learning

Still, with 90 percent of her students opting to return to face-to-face learning for the first time in an entire year the educator feels she has instilled enough confidence in her student body to give it a shot.

For Renee Ruiz and Michael Garcia their only child, 5-year-old Michael, is experiencing in-person school for the first time ever.

“Our son did not go to preschool. This is his first experience of school,” said Ruiz.

It was tough. After the first day of school pictures, the hugs, the goodbyes and the hellos to classmates he had only met virtually, he was off to the big adventure.

“It was kind of scary, should we do it, should we not,” said Garcia.

The Wayne Westland School District will be doing cohort learning. Cohort A will go to school full days Monday and Tuesday. The entire district will do remote learning on Wednesdays and then cohort B does face-to-face learning Thursday and Friday while everyone else is remote.

“Organized chaos, but it is the excitement of it all and seeing how excited all the kids are, seeing how excited the parents are, the emotions. The teachers are excited. There are usually tears on both sides with parents and teachers. This year especially it has been very heartfelt because we haven’t been able to connect with our kids,” said Michaels.

Mrs. Janik walks her young learners through the basics virtually as she showed Local 4 News recently.

Both Garcia and Ruiz say the students already connected online and became friends which made it easier.

Watch more: What Wayne-Westland Community Schools is doing to keep students safe as in-person learning resumes

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