Laminated hands and car desks: How schools are welcoming kids back

Educators are getting creative as districts prepare for in-person reopenings this spring.

Bouncing on the balls of her feet, eight-year-old Lyla Whyte could hardly contain her excitement as she waited in line for Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary School to reopen March 1. Her mother, Cherie Whyte, looked on with equal parts pride and nervousness.

“We’ve spent the year keeping them ‘safer at home,’ and now the thought of having them away, in someone else’s care, makes me feel like a mom of a newborn all over again—a bit anxious,” the Corona, California, mom admits.

Like the Whytes, many parents are eager—and anxious—to get their kids back into classrooms. After all, many fully remote kids are falling behind. On average, students who attended virtual-only classes in 2020 lost the equivalent of three months of math learning and one-and-a-half months of reading instruction, according to a report by Curriculum Associates. And school districts nationwide—from California to Virginia—have reported huge increases in failing grades during the pandemic.

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