Allentown elementary students and teachers return to in-person learning after a year apart

Written by on April 20, 2021

Allentown elementary students and teachers return to in-person learning after a year apart

By Tyler Pratt

April 20, 2021

First graders stand in line for their first in-person learning day after their parents drop them off Monday morning. Photo | Tyler Pratt / WLVR

Allentown families dusted off their backpacks and lunch boxes as elementary students returned to in-person learning on April 19. They’ve been virtual for more than a year. 

Listen to the story.

Some kids had classic first-day nerves as their parents dropped them off at Roosevelt Elementary School. One child told her mom she had “jitter juice” in her stomach.

Mrs. Siegfried met her first graders on the sidewalk and guided them to her classroom. 

“Come on kids we’re going to get some hand sanitizer and find your seat,” Siegfried says.

A sign outside Roosevelt Elementary School as parents to stay outside. Photo | Tyler Pratt / WLVR.

Desks were spread out far apart. Azila Harris was holding her laptop as she walked in a single-file line into her class. 

“I’m excited to see my friends again, my teacher,” Harris says. “I’m excited to go to my classroom and learn more stuff.”

Harris said she’s ready for math and to learn to count by fives. But also, lunch and recess, at school, not at home. 

“On our lunch break we would clean up the house downstairs,” Harris says. “After we clean up we sometimes waste our whole lunch and that would get me, like, angry or sad.”

Harris is one of 160 students going back on Mondays and Tuesdays. Another group will attend Thursdays and Fridays. Standing out on the lawn after saying goodbye Monday morning, Azila’s mom, Tiniqua Harris said virtual first grade has been hard. 

“She needs teacher contact, so I’m happy that they’re doing this,” Harris said. 

Only about half the student population is returning in person. Tiniqua Harris said she had mixed emotions about going back. She wants to make sure Azila is safe.

“I definitely want her to keep her 6 feet [apart],” Harris said. “I’ll be reaching out to her teacher throughout the day to make sure she’s keeping her mask on.” 

Desks are spaced out inside Mrs. Siegfried’s first-grade classroom. Photo | Tyler Pratt / WLVR

Back in the classroom,  Mrs. Siegfried says she feels a mix or nerves and excitement too. She asks kids what they are looking forward to. Azila Harris throws her hand up and says she’s excited to see another teacher at the school in real life. 

“Ready to see what he looks like, how tall he is?” Mrs. Siegfried said. 

“Yeah!” Harris said. 

And just like that, the jitters are gone and everyone is happy to not be on Zoom. 

Sign up for our WLVR weekly newsletter to stay up to date with the latest news from the Lehigh Valley and across Pennsylvania.


Current track