Back to school: Some New Jersey students return to in-person classes

Masks are required for all students and staff to wear, and staff members are tested once a week, regardless of vaccination status.
CAMDEN, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Monday marked the first day since March 2020, that all KIPP Lanning Square Primary and Middle School students in Camden, New Jersey, were learning in-person five days a week.

Parents walked their children to school and hugged them goodbye on their first day.

KIPP is following New Jersey's school mandate, which means there's not a remote learning option and classrooms are at full capacity. Many parents said they're happy about the return to in-person learning as many difficulties were figuring out how to learn virtually from home.

"With the home school thing everything was new," said Justin Ford.

Now, parents said a sense of normalcy has been restored as their children head back to school. Some students said it's easier to focus in a classroom setting.

"I really like going back, it's easier than being on a computer because I don't have to deal with my baby sisters, and get distracted," said Javieleis Vazquez, a fifth-grade student.

Many of the students said they're looking forward to interacting with their peers again.

"I'm happy to see my friends," said Jah'sir Sewell, who's entering second grade.

Masks are required for all students and staff to wear, and staff is tested once a week, regardless of vaccination status. Faculty said they've been working all summer to ensure a safe return for students.

"So far it's been a really smooth day, the kids are excited to be here, there are lots of smiles, the families seem really open to having their kids come back to school," said Ken Calemmo, assistant school leader.

Currently, it's not required to show proof of vaccination for staff or students at KIPP, although the school is encouraging everyone eligible to get the vaccine to do so.

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