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From Olathe to Kansas City, It's Back To School For Real

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On the first day of the 2021 school year, students and teachers had masks on inside Southeast High School in the Kansas City Public Schools district.
Courtesy of Kansas City Public Schools
At Southeast High School in Kansas City, Missouri, students and teachers were back in classrooms with masks on.

Monday saw thousands of kids on buses and walking in school hallways, things they hadn't been able to do for most of last year.

Some students were facing mask mandates and other safety measures against COVID-19 on top of the regular challenges of starting a new school year.

Despite school looking and feeling different these days, initial reactions have been positive. "Our staff is thrilled to have our kids back in the building," principal Jay Novecak said.

For younger students who started kindergarten online last year, first grade marks their first time in the classroom.

Olathe elementary school principal Trisha Putthoff reported that teachers paired those new pupils with students who have real classroom experience.

Putthoff happily noted that as a result, "I didn't have any criers this year and I have 60 kindergarteners."

Over on the Missouri side Southeast High School teacher Katherine Zeeck observed, "We had more excitement on the first day of school yesterday than we have in the six years I've been here."

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
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Chris Young is an Assistant Producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact him at chrisy@kcur.org.
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