Some kindergarteners got the red carpet welcome on first day of in-person learning in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Teachers and staff went all out at the Philadelphia Performing Arts String Theory Charter School on Monday as dozens of kindergarten students began in-person learning.

To help ease first-day jitters, students walked a red carpet and entered through a balloon archway as a teacher sang. The goal was to make the first day of school a memorable one for the students.

"The red carpet, it's been a tradition at performing arts for 20 years," said Vice Principal January Teti.

There was a lot of excitement and picture-taking outside the school as roughly 70 students returned to the building.

"This is the first day they have stepped foot into our campus building. They've been doing remote learning since the beginning of September," Teti said.

"My daughter just started her first day of kindergarten. Very happy that we're back in school," said parent and teacher Jaime Fumo.

Their introduction to in-person classes will include an adjusted way of learning.

"Everyone must wear a mask. We have 6-feet markers. Everyone's desks look a little differently than from when we were in school. We have blockers up, we have them 6-feet apart," Teti said.

The kids don't know what to expect, but it's the adults who are up early trying to get it right.

"Full of nerves. I feel like it's my first day of teaching even though I'm now an administrator," Teti said.

Teachers said they're ready to get over this hurdle caused by the pandemic.

"It's really good for the kids to get back into the classroom and have a little bit of normalcy," said teacher Alexis Minniti.

School leaders said the next step is to phase in the return of first-grade students over the next week.
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