Tri-Cities teachers, parents, students prepare for first day of school

Back To School

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Teachers and students are preparing to hit the halls. They say they’re excited to get a new start following a year of COVID-19 challenges.

Washington County, Tennessee is one of the school systems heading back to the classroom on Monday morning.

“My little one is starting second grade at Jonesborough Elementary,” mother Kassie Rupert said. “He’s pretty nervous, but he’s excited.”

Kayden Rupert spent Sunday packing his Baby Yoda-themed backpack for his first day of school. Rupert said he has a few memories from the past school year.

“We had to wear masks, we had to stay home for a while, and that’s about it,” Kayden Rupert said.

But on Monday, he gets to kick off the year in a classroom where masks are optional. Second-year kindergarten teacher at Ridgeview Elementary Audrey Sanders said after spending much of her very first year virtual, she’s excited to start the year off in-person as well.

“Coming in, learning how to teach five-year-olds on a screen was totally different,” Sanders said. “So, it was pretty stressful.”

This year, Sanders will be able to teach in the hands-on way that she loves and see her students’ smiles.

“We’re able to see some smiling faces because the mask is optional for the students. They’re getting to see my face, and I’m also getting to see their face,” Sanders said. “That was something I didn’t get to experience last year.”

Whether you ask teacher, students or parents, they’ll tell you it’s a year that’s sure to be one for the books.

“My little boy struggled last year with his work, his homework because at that time we were both working so it was hard to get him online at the right times, so he was pushed back a little bit,” Kassie Rupert said. “It means a lot for him to be able to go back and have one-on-one with his teachers.”

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