Elgin U46 students return to classroom Monday — with masks — for first day of school

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ELGIN, Ill. — Monday was the first day of school for one of the state’s largest districts.

While some kids were excited about returning to normalcy, some parents expressed anxiety over their children’s health. Yet, many who spoke with WGN say they have full faith in the district’s safety procedures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

While the first day of school can be full of jitters, even under normal circumstances, after months of virtual learning, students told WGN their excitement to return to the classroom was at an all-time high.

“In the morning when I first came here, I was a little nervous, but it became fun and I wasn’t nervous after all,” said sixth-grader Geovany Alejandre.

That doesn’t mean that some parents weren’t concerned, however.

“There was a little bit of worry about how she’d handle it, but she took it like a champ,” parent Tom Sprindis said about his daughter.

Sprindis’ wife, Sherie, worries that virus transmission is possible due to kids being unvaccinated and with social distancing inside schools all but mute. To counter such concerns, the district announced all Elgin schools must wear masks.

Geovany’s mother, Nicole, said her son has asthma, so the facial covering requirement caused a bit of worry. But the middle school student told WGN he was unfazed.

“It gets hot and sweaty, but I just change my mask and it’s fine,” Geovany said.

The district is also partnering with the University of Illinois to test unvaccinated students, teachers and staff members. 

“U46 has been really good so far,” Sherie Sprindis said.

While most are happy to be back, trepidation on how long the return to the classroom lasts remains. Elgin U46 Superintendent Tony Sanders said logistically, student’s return on Monday was a success.

“Students are all back in their classrooms learning on day one, albeit wearing their masks and doing all the protocols that we expect students to follow,” Sanders said. “But it’s been a wonderful day.”

“Last year, at most, we had 50% of our kids in classrooms. So to have 37,000 students come back in today has been honestly emotional to have them all back.”

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