Kids Can’t Mask Excitement as In-Person Learning Resumes

Congratulations, universe: You win. You actually did it. You made kids excited to go back to school.

In-person learning finally resumed in the Canby School District this week, in an extremely cautious, hybrid approach that appeared almost guaranteed to not make anyone happy. (The model offers only two half-days per week to K-3rd graders, with older students being gradually phased in throughout the weeks to come.)

And yet — everyone seemed thrilled about it anyway.

Whitney Kirk Altman sent both of her boys — Jacoby, a third-grader, and Donovan, a kindergartner, back to class at Knight Elementary School this week. She said their excitement Wednesday morning was “unreal.”

Donovan and Jacoby. Courtesy Whitney Kirk Altman.

“They barely touched their breakfast, they were so anxious and ready to head to the bus stop!” she said with a laugh. “It’s not 100% ideal, sending them back only three hours a day, two days a week, but for these dudes, it’s better than nothing.”

And it wasn’t just the kids. Carus Elementary School kindergarten teacher Nicole Nelson wasn’t exactly hiding her excitement either.

She made a sign for the front and back entrances of Carus (“We Can’t Mask How Excited We Are!”) and even constructed a balloon arch in one of the main halls — just to make sure kids got the message.

“We just did our best to make kids feel special being in class and excited to learn together in person!” Nelson told The Canby Current. “It went great! I sure missed having kids in my classroom! It was such a great feeling.”

Courtesy Nicole Nelson.

Her students felt the same way, she said.

“In our morning circle they shared what they’re most excited for, and so many said just being here with me in person,” she said. “And in our closing circle for the day, they all said it was a great day and they are so excited to come back!”

(By the way, anybody else miss “morning circle”? Why the heck did we stop doing that?)

Altman reported a similar debrief at the end of the day. The first thing her boys said was that they hadn’t wanted to come home.

Courtesy Nicole Nelson.

“They had a blast!” she said. “Their only complaint was not being able to go back the next day.”

On Facebook, other parents had similar experiences.

“My boys said it was the best day EVER going to ‘real school’!” one mother said with a laugh. “Even though it’s a very small amount of time, they still loved it! Juggling all the Zoom meetings and homework, though, is very challenging with three in elementary school.”

“My kids had a great day!” said another. “They loved seeing their teacher in person and being with friends again. The only downside was having to stay six feet apart at recess.”

Courtesy Whitney Kirk Altman.

Others said they hope the district is able to build on their success and return to full in-person learning after the summer break.

“My girls loved it!” a Canby mom told us on Facebook. “Especially my kindergarten student. It was her first day in a classroom. Even if it’s half-day, that still helps. Can’t wait when we’re open all the way.”

“My third-grader said it was the best day ever,” another parent agreed. “He’s very excited to go back again Friday. I’m thankful his teacher and the staff at Lee Elementary made it possible for him to return to school, even part-time, but I hope it progresses toward full-time by fall.

“Kids need to get back to in-person instruction, socializing with peers even if it’s at a distance and less screen time!”

Help us build a sustainable news organization to serve Canby for generations to come! Let us know if you can support our efforts to expand our operations and keep all of our content paywall-free. #SwimWithTheCurrent!