Some Camden, New Jersey students return to the classroom

CAMDEN, New Jersey (WPVI) -- It was like a party in Camden, New Jersey on Monday morning.

Teachers, police and firefighters were all cheering on students as they arrived for in-person learning at H.B. Wilson Family School on a hybrid schedule.

"I like going to school," said Zinnea C.

"I'm excited about meeting new people and actually being in the classroom because it's hard to learn online," said 2nd grader Kaden Williams.

"The teachers have been doing a great job online, and the students were engaged, but it's nothing like having our students coming back," remarked principal Nicole Harrigan.

It's the first time in the classroom in more than a year.

"I'm just glad he's getting back in," said parent Ramonita Flores.

"School isn't just about reading and writing, it's also about meeting new people and learning how to interact with people who are the same and different," said parent Aniecea Williams.

Across Camden City schools on Monday, Pre-K through 2nd-grade students, as well as select students with high-needs, returned to class.
"Today is about going back to school and being with your friends," said student Timothy Leach.

"Being in his routine of things - getting up in the morning, being excited to see his friends, learning new things - I think is very routine for any child, but for an autistic child, routine is everything," said Timothy's mother, Deneen Phifer.

Classrooms have been updated and sanitized. Mask wearing is a must.
Roughly 40% of students across the district have decided to return to in-person learning. The rest will remain remote.

"We're at the beginning of our final marking period and so aligning our return date with our marking period was something that was very important as well. We just wanted to make sure we could bring students back when we could do it safely," explained Camden City Schools Superintendent Katrina McCombs.

Students are returning in phases. The next phase of students will be 3rd to 5th graders, but no return date has been set just yet.
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