PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Wednesday, Aug. 18 marked the first day of school for Peoria Public School students.
Students arrived at Calvin Coolidge Middle School, greeted by members of the West Peoria community, to kick off the school year.
“I feel like it sets the tone to encourage them, so we can set the year off right,” said School Safety Officer Breonna Collins. “[It] lets them know that we’re all here for them, and shows them that everybody in this community came out as a whole to welcome them and let them know that it’s going to be alright, and it’s going to be a great year.”
Principal Mick Swanson was fist-bumping masked students as they exited school busses.
He said it benefits more than just the students to be back in person.
“Last year was just hard. The relationships got broken,” Swanson said. “And that’s not only hard on the kids, it’s hard on our teachers. I’ve got a great group of people here that love their kids and are ready to have them back.”
Elementary students were also welcomed back with signs, waves, and fist-bumps. Franklin Primary School in Peoria is celebrating its 100th school year.
Students said they couldn’t wait to get to class.
“I’m excited about going into the school and meeting my old friends and making new friends,” said fourth-grader Elijah Hall.
COVID-19 mitigations are in place at Peoria Public Schools, including masking and spacing out three feet when possible. School leaders are also offering antigen testing for students who show any symptoms.