Administrators at Poole’s Mill Elementary opened up the brand-new school Thursday morning as kids hopped out of cars and buses, heading into their classrooms for the first day of the 2020-21 year.
Teachers and administrators bounced around with excitement in the lobby of the new school, which echoes the design of the Poole’s Mill Bridge, while they waited for the car line to start at around 7 a.m., ready to finally get back to work after months of uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
“The entire staff is so excited,” Principal Paige Andrews said. “We’ve just gotten a lot of really passionate people here, and they’re all about kids.”
School leaders from Forsyth County Schools were there along with the Poole’s Mill administration to help everything run smoothly during the first day, helping set up fun, upbeat music and a balloon arc at the front of the school to celebrate students coming in.
Overall, teachers and administrators both agreed that everything ran smoothly the first day, and it seemed as though students were having no issue following all of the safety measures put in place for the start of the year.
Most of the kids heading into the school had finished off their back-to-school outfit with a fun or brightly-colored face mask to match, and they were greeted by hand sanitizing stations and floor markers encouraging social distancing as they walked through the door.
Andrews also said that the school’s Parent and Teacher Organization recently donated 24 picnic tables to the school so that kids in every grade level have a space to spread out outside during lunch, and painted squares out in the bus lane to provide more outside space.
“We’ve worked really hard to work through any obstacles we have that have to do with coronavirus, and I think we’ve solved a lot of issues,” Andrews said. “We’re using technology, we’re being creative with scheduling, and I think we’ve created great days for our students.”
Andrews started planning for the school’s opening back in January 2019, and she said that all of the time and planning that went into it helped prepare the administration and teachers for a smooth first day back despite the pandemic.
At the end of the day, Andrews said wanted to make sure that every single “pirate” had a wonderful first day of school — whether they were there in person or virtually.
“Our No. 1 goal is for the students to love school,” Andrews said. “It’s all about relationships this year, and so we want them to fall in love with school. We want it to be exciting.”
Forsyth County Schools spokeswoman Jennifer Caracciolo said that almost every school across the county also enjoyed a smooth first day of school. Middle school buses ran about 20 minutes late in the morning and some student schedules have not yet been finalized, but overall, Caracciolo said that the first day started out well across the board.
The school system did report on its website later in the day that one student or teacher from Lambert High School tested positive for the coronavirus.
The school system will continue to report any positive cases that come up among teachers or students through its website. A note at the top of the website states that a known positive case does not mean that the individual was physically in the school around the time that they tested positive.
After a mostly successful first day, many are still looking forward to seeing how the mix of virtual and in-person learning will work in the coming weeks as uncertainty and worry surrounding the pandemic impacts schools in nearby counties.