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First day back at brick-and-mortar for Palm Beach County students

'I hope it's not the new normal. We are definitely in a new season'
Posted at 8:28 PM, Sep 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-21 23:52:14-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Monday, students, teachers, and staff in the Palm Beach County School District were back in brick-and-mortar. The undertaking involved its own set of challenges from them.

"I hope it's not the new normal. We are definitely in a new season," Dr. Eric Jourgensen said.

Jourgensen teaches intro to Journalism and American Literature at Palm Beach Central. He said when he walked into the school it appeared empty.

"I miss the buzz of kids in the hallway and just the students talking, whether they're supposed to be talking or not, but that constant kind of noise," he said.

He said his school did a great job of prepping the campus. Desks were spaced out and teachers were given buckets full of wipes to wipe down desks at the end of class.

"The student is required to wear masks, they're spaced three feet and most of them even tried to space themselves even farther," he said.

RELATED: Thousands of Palm Beach County students head back to classrooms on Monday

Jourgensen said his style of teaching is pacing around the class.

"But I'm trying to stay behind the desk where my webcam is set up so I could be on camera for the kids that were virtual and still be able to answer for the kids that are in class," he said.

The School District of Palm Beach County estimates up to 54,000 students attended physical school Monday throughout the district. That's about 90% of the just over 60,000 students they expected. Still, 107,000 students remain in distance learning with about three thousand absences.

Jourgensen said he approval to teach from home but chose to come back to the classroom.

"I wanted to be back in the classroom because it's the fair thing to do for the kids that are coming to school for whatever their reason is," he said.

Jourgensen said each teacher was given masks and face shields. Signs have been put up for everyone to walk on the right side of the hallways and there are no lockers available to students.