SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Class is back in session in Utah’s capital city. In ABC4’s exclusive look into two schools this academic year, we show how masks change the dynamic of learning in the Salt Lake City Classroom Chronicles.

The morning began with photos of children returning before parents got that last-minute hug in and sent their kids to class for the first day of school in two years.

Parent taking selfie at Mary W. Jackson Elementary on first day of school.

One student tells ABC4, “I never met these people before, and this is a new school for me.”

Parent Francisco Ayala says his son is excited, “He finally gets to go to kindergarten.”

“It’s a little bit nerve-wracking for all of us parents, but at the same time, it’s kind of a weight taken off our shoulders just for a couple hours of the day,” father Thomas Nelson adds.

All elementary students can not get a COVID-19 vaccine because they are under the age of 12.
Health officials say children wearing masks is the next best option, and most parents we spoke to agree.

“They are going to wear face masks, my kids, they are going to wash their hands, and I have them with Lysol and stuff,” Ashley Wilson said about her daughters.

Mother Johnnie Walker says, “I like that, at least everybody is protected, and you know, you don’t have to worry about hopefully a lot of sicknesses going around.”

For others, the trust lies with educators.

4th Grade Class at Mary W. Jackson Elementary

“I have a lot of faith in the teachers, I know they know how to clean very well and sanitize, they’ve been doing that for years,” says mother Erin Florisbello. “It’s really hard to know what to do quite frankly. There is a lot of information out there so I just want to keep my kid safe and other kids too.”

Liberty Elementary Principal JaNeal Rodriguez does her part to limit the spread by handing out masks to those who needed them.

“Masks stay on inside and outside, and they had zero problems with it, kids are great, kids are resilient, kids are amazing, and will do what they have to do to keep each other safe, and they understand the why,” she says.

Superintendent Dr. Timothy Gadson III exiting one of the districts electric buses

Superintendent Dr. Timothy Gadson III surprised students at Mary W. Jackson Elementary by showing up on one of the district’s eight electric school busses.

While walking into the school, he stopped to hear the music ringing through the hallways.

“It’s exciting just seeing students in person, and that was important to us that students were able to physically able to come to school, and be in class, and interact with their peers and their teachers,” says the superintendent.

Parents showed their absolute gratitude because of the district’s hard work getting the first day of school on the books.

Father Jesus Rosas tells ABC4, “This is the most safety that we know for the children and the young people.”

The goal now is to prevent an outbreak within the elementary schools so children can catch up on things they missed in previous years.