Longview ISD welcomes back students with new safety measures

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LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK) – It’s back to school for one of the largest school districts in East Texas. Longview ISD welcomed students Monday for the first time in months.

As parents were faced with a difficult decision, whether to keep their students at home or send them back to the classroom, the staff at Ned E. Williams Elementary in Longview, made it their mission to set a standard in keeping children and staff safe.

“I love that counting ladies,” said one teacher as her students practiced counting to 10.

The first day of school had its usual lessons. Filled with students learning their numbers, language arts, all while looking forward to recess. However, this year, something new is being taught.

“Honestly I was kind of nervous about how it was going to be different then it was last year,” explained Porschee Puckett, as she waited to pick up her daughter from her first day in the 3rd grade.

Parents like Puckett, and students, are learning how to stay safe amid a pandemic. It’s a lesson being taught before they even enter the building.

“As students come in they pass by our hand washing stations where they wash their hands…as the kids arrive for parent drop off we have staff out there to scan student temperatures,” said Melanie Hamilton, Principal of Ned E Williams Elementary School.

Welcoming back students was a long-awaited day, not just for district staff, but parents as well. Some, had no worries about sending their children back.

“I feel like the school knows what they are doing, if they didn’t they wouldn’t ask parents to bring students back to school,” said Brenda Hensley, as she picked up her two daughters from school.

Students and teachers were required to wear a mask throughout the day. Sanitizer sat close by in every classroom, ensuring safety no matter where a student was. While most classrooms hold nearly 20 students, less could be found behind a desk. Many families choosing virtual, at home learning for their child.

Longview ISD is just one of many East Texas school districts opening its doors for the first time in months. However, as neighboring districts battle students contracting COVID-19, at Ned E Williams, they hope everything they have implemented, will help to keep students and staff safe.

“Ofcourse it’s always in the back of your mind, but as long as we’re following all of the safety procedures that our district has put in place, then we’re hopeful for great results,” explained Principal Hamilton.

While, for some parents the choice to send their child back was an easy one.

“I don’t want my students sitting at home being bored and cluttered up and feeling like they’re closed in,” said Hensley.

For others, they wonder if they have made the right decision.

“I think we should be home schooling. As far as my family goes, not it didn’t make my family feel any better. It’s hard to keep kids germ free, because they are kids, they want to touch each other, they do want to share they do want to exchange things and stuff like that,” said Puckett.

As students opened their book, the first day was just page one in a long journey ahead.

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