They're back

Florence High School students return for regular “in-person” classes for the first time in seven months Monday morning. Students in Florence Unified School District hadn’t been in their buildings for regular classes since leaving for spring break in the last academic year on March 6.

FLORENCE — Superintendent Chris Knutsen visited seven of Florence Unified School District’s 12 campuses Monday. There was no particular problem or urgent issue.

“Honestly, I just wanted to see kids on campuses. … Kids were real happy to be back in school,” Knutsen told PinalCentral.

Monday was the first day of regular classes in seven months for the nearly 10,000 students in FUSD.

“It went great,” Knutsen said of their first day back. “It was awesome driving into work this morning and seeing all the Florence buses on the road.”

About 70% of FUSD students have returned to regular classes. Some who had previously opted to continue online study decided at the last minute to come back in person. Knutsen thought it would be more, “but I understand, some people just aren’t ready to get back in person.”

Students who came back Monday saw the kind of protective equipment they’ve been seeing in other public places — hand-washing stations, plexiglass shields and everyone wearing masks.

“I think all things considered, today went really well,” Assistant Superintendent Adam Leckie said. “…For the most part, no major issues. Kids were in seats, they were following all of our mitigation measures without really any problem. Teachers showed up ready to work and connect with kids.”

“I think it’s great that we have our kids back in school,” Knutsen said. “The majority of people wanted to get back in school, and at the same time we’re able to help those kids online that want to stay online. We’re just excited to be back.”

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Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.

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