Mixed feelings about 1st day of school for parents, students and staff

Andrew Towne/Lingle Guide Students of the Lingle-Fort Laramie High School and Middle School gather outside the school building awaiting the start of the first day of school.

LINGLE – Children and parents lined up in front of the Lingle-Fort Laramie Elementary School to start the 2020-2021 school year on Tuesday, Aug. 18. They were greeted by the staff of the L-FL Elementary School as they approached the school. Staff members ensured students were wearing protective face coverings as they approached. 

Most things were the same as any other “first day,” except for the Goshen County School District’s requirements to wear face coverings and maintain safe social distancing. Many parents and students were uneasy about the ruling made by the school district. 

“We are just excited to have the kids back, honestly,” Lingle-Fort Laramie social studies teacher A.J. Gross said. “That’s the biggest thing.

“We’ll all have to be patient because there will be a lot of adjustments and changes,” he said. “We’ll just focus on the positives of having people back.”

Brenda Morrison of Fort Laramie told The Guide, “I’m having a hard time with the masks because my child has asthma.” She said she fears the masks may inhibit her child’s ability to breathe easily. Morrison has two children who will be attending L-FL schools this year, Jaedin Duthie and Jordin Eutsler. Jaedin was optimistic about the school year and was ready to get started. 

Paula Newcomb of Lingle said she was very active in the school and would volunteer, before COVID-19 restrictions. Newcomb has a child in third grade and a child in fifth grade. Newcomb said she is nervous and excited about the new school year but wishes she could be more involved with the school. 

Some of the children who approached the school were not wearing face coverings. Brenda Unverzagt, an elementary school paraprofessional, said there were masks available for students who were not wearing face masks.

“It will definitely be a change,” senior Cordell Forkner said. “I’m not sure how it’s going to go. We’ll just play it day-by-day.

“I’m excited for the sports, but not the masks and stuff,” Forkner said. “It’s going to take a lot time to get used to compared to last year,”

Overall, students said they were excited to begin the new year. One student, whose mother asked not to have her name published, said she was scared, and several agreed they were nervous, but most were excited to be back at school. Brandi Correa of Torrington said her son needs the structure offered by going to school, and she is glad he is going.

Some on campus Tuesday had positive thoughts about the day, and the coming year. Mike Lashley, dean of students, athletic director and math teacher, was just happy to be getting back into the classroom.

“Finally. It’s been a long time,” Lashley said. “A lot of planning has gone into this. We just need to get the kids back in school and get going.”

“I think today is going to go really well,” he said. “The kids are excited to be here. In fact, I had one kid just tell me, it’s been too long. He wanted to be back with his friends. Honestly, I think the kids are glad to be back in school.”

Andrew Towne contributed to this story

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