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What First Day Back to In-Person School Was Like

Monrovia Unified School District students received the red-carpet treatment on Aug. 18, welcomed with colorful balloons, inspirational banners, and exuberant school mascots as they returned to in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year.

Wearing big smiles behind their face masks and chatting amiably with their classmates and teachers, more than 5,000 Monrovia students from transitional kindergarten to 12th grade made their first appearances on campus for full-time instruction since March 2020.

“We are ecstatic to have our students back on campus. The first day of school is always exciting, but this year is extra special,” MUSD Board President Maritza Travanti said. “Seeing the students arrive on campus, hearing the spirit in their voices and watching them interact together makes me so happy. School Board members were at multiple school sites greeting students, families and staff throughout the week. We are looking forward to a wonderful and successful 2021-22 school year.”

At Monrovia High School, the new freshman class was greeted by a huge inflatable Wildcat, teachers wearing “The Wildcat Way” T-shirts, and mentors and representatives from Renaissance Club, Link Crew and Associated Student Body.

As part of the Monrovia High Passport to Success program, freshmen spent their first morning receiving a pep talk from principal Kirk McGinnis as well as learning tips on how to be a successful high school student. In keeping with Wildcat tradition, freshmen were asked to make a commitment pledge to graduate in 2025, signing their names to a ceremonial white commencement robe.

Monrovia High senior and Renaissance Club member Jackee Munoz is excited to be back at school and to be assisting the freshmen class as they acclimate to their new surroundings.

“This is my favorite part of school, being able to be a leader for the freshmen,” Munoz said. “It’s really important to be on campus because we all missed out on so much last year. It’s good to see my friends and everyone coming back together. I’m looking forward to a normal year, back to everyone being in the same place.”

Seniors, juniors, and sophomores arrived later in the day, receiving their schedules, and attending their first classes.

At Plymouth Elementary School, students sporting colorful backpacks and face masks walked a red carpet into school. Plymouth PTA members dressed in green dragon costumes provided entertainment and proud parents took pictures as students waited in line to receive their class assignments.

Plymouth students were assigned color codes that directed them to their new classroom and teacher. Principal Greg Gero assisted faculty and staff in greeting students and enthusiastically answering questions from parents.

“This is a much more exciting first day than usual,” Gero said. “We are thrilled to welcome back all of our students, many of whom we haven’t seen in a year and a half. Just to see all the new faces and the families, and how excited they are, the teachers and the staff. It’s very rewarding.”

Students will follow a full-time in-person schedule and adhere to all State of California health and safety protocols. Masks will be required indoors but are optional outdoors for students, faculty and staff. Physical distancing is not required but will be encouraged. Playgrounds will be open for all students, and they can spend their lunch indoors or outdoors. Information on COVID-19 screenings and vaccinations can be found on the District website.

Monrovia Unified also launched Mountain Park Virtual Academy this school year, presenting students and families with an online option while still receiving a full, comprehensive curriculum.

“I have never looked forward to a first day of school more than this year,” MUSD Superintendent Dr. Ryan Smith said. “I am so proud to welcome back our returning students, introduce new students and families to the District, and to be part of this amazing and vibrant community. On behalf of Monrovia Unified administrators, faculty and staff, we are ready to resume our mission to provide our children with a world class education that prepares them for success in college and career.”

Source: Monrovia Schools press release

- Brad Haugaard

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