TREVORTON — Five-year-old Grayson Gay sat in an auditorium seat at the Line Mountain Elementary School with his parents on Wednesday evening.
The boy from Lower Augusta Township was like many other countless young people over the years getting ready his first year in public school for the 2020-21 academic year. What was different about Grayson and 60 other district students doing kindergarten orientation this week at Line Mountain are masks.
Grayson was wearing a blue mask with Superman on it to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
"It's a new experience altogether," said Kelsi Myer, his mother. "He's excited at least."
James Gay, his father, said this is an important step for Grayson and it's hard on all of them.
"It'll be a challenge," he said. "I'd rather him here than not at all."
Orientation was held Tuesday and Wednesday with the final day today. Each night, twenty families came for three sessions per orientation day, said Elementary Principal Jeanne Menko.
Kindergarten students will attend classes every other day. The teachers will have half their students on one day and the other half the next day, she said.
The first day of classes is on Aug. 24. Students in first-through-fourth grade will attend in person, but parents have the option of using online learning if they would prefer not to have their child in school. Students in fifth-through-12th grades will attend two days of in-person classes and three days of online classes. Students will the last name starting with A-L will attend in person on Monday and Tuesday and M-Z will attend Wednesday and Thursday. Parents can choose more online learning if they wish, according to the district's plan.
Kindergarten teacher Beth Reed had the first group of parents and students on Wednesday. At each desk clump, there are two seats: one red and one blue. Only one child will sit at the desk clump each day, she said.
"I think we'll do the best we can this year," said Reed. "It will be noticeably different."
After each session, Reed cleaned the tables and supplies with sanitizer.
Patricia and Thomas Beachel, of Herndon, who brought their 5-year-old daughter Astrid, said they were "anxious" about starting the new year.
"I have all the faith in the world in the school district," said Thomas Beachel.
"I'm very confident," Patricia Beacher agreed.