LYMAN — Lyman Elementary School staff received a welcome sight Monday — one they hadn’t seen since mid-March.

One by one — and after receiving a health screening, including a temperature check — the school’s youngest students returned, albeit in smaller numbers.

“It’s great,” Principal Scott McPhee said. “We know that the best place for kids to learn is in the classroom.”

It was a similar story at each of the Sedro-Woolley School District’s seven elementary schools as the district welcomed back its kindergarten, first and second grade students.

“I’m seeing a lot of smiling kids behind their masks,” said Sedro-Woolley School District Superintendent Phil Brockman, who visited each of the schools on the first day back. “I think there’s just a lot of happy people. Things are going really well.”

At Lyman, parents were asked to fill out online health screenings before taking their children to school, McPhee said. When they arrived, staff took the temperature of each child before they got out of the car, then gave each a sticker noting they had successfully passed their screening.

“We want to make sure we do this well, and safely,” McPhee said. “It’s all about safe distances and protocols for safety.”

Every student wore a mask. Those that did not have one were provided one by district staff. Students are being given breaks where they can go outside and take their masks off, McPhee said.

About 30 students — 10 per classroom — will be on campus any given day, McPhee said.

“There’s nothing like live teaching,” he said. “And live learning.”

Like other districts that have moved to a hybrid model, where students spend some of their time on campus and the rest learning online, kids will spend two days on campus and the rest at home.

While it does not yet have a specific date, the district is hoping to bring back students in third through sixth grades, Brockman said.

That, however, depends on the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the county during the next several weeks.

“We’re looking at the metrics,” Brockman said. “We’re keeping a really close eye on it. I’m encouraging everyone I see to mask up so we can get kids back in school.”

The district is not the first in the county to welcome back students after starting the school year with all students at home learning in an online format.

The Concrete School District welcomed back its kindergarten and first graders last week, and hopes to welcome back all of its students by Nov. 9.

“Our biggest challenge is with the secondary, making sure we have a plan for that as far as keeping them (in smaller groups) and not moving around a lot,” Superintendent Wayne Barrett said.

The Anacortes School District intends to have kindergarten and first grade students or its kindergarten through third grade students returning to in-person learning on Nov. 2, and its fourth and fifth grade students on Nov. 9.

The Burlington-Edison School District is hoping to welcome back its kindergarten, first and second grade students on Oct. 19.

“We want to open and do that really well and stay healthy,” Superintendent Laurel Browning said.

The La Conner and Mount Vernon school districts are allowing certain students, as determined by their districts, back on campus.

The Conway School District began the school year with kindergarten and first graders on campus.

— Reporter Kera Wanielista: 360-416-2141,, Twitter: @Kera_SVH,

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