By Frances Wang

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – On Wednesday, 49 elementary schools and 8 high schools under the Archdiocese of Miami re-opened for phased in-person learning.

At St. David Catholic School in Davie, kindergarten through 2nd-grade students returned to class.

Next Monday, 3rd to 5th graders will return, followed by 6th to 8th graders the following Wednesday. By that Friday, October 2nd, all students who are returning will be back in all the schools under the Diocese.

Since the decision was announced a week ago, the principal of the school said her teachers really stepped up to the occasion and had their classrooms ready to go. Some are teaching students in the classroom and at home at the same time.

“When you go to the classroom, you’ll see their smiles and faces. They’re so excited they’re back,’ said Principal Jane Broder. “Kind of have to do our very best we can to make a normal school day for children.”

Broder said about 70 percent of her students and their families opted for them to come back. There are a lot of new students at the school, and she wants them to feel welcomed. She also wants everyone to feel safe.

Each classroom will only have 15 students. Desks and other furniture in classrooms have been moved to allow social distancing and floors have been marked. Hand sanitizers and face masks are provided to students. They also have to get their temperatures checked upon drop off.

Principal Broder said day one already has taught them that they need more staffing to make temperature checks go by faster.

Another potential challenge: How do you tell elementary school students to stay away from their friends?

“They come to school for socializing,” said Broder, “But we’ve had 3-4-year-olds here since August 19th. They wear their masks, they don’t complain, they play, and they do everything they’re supposed to do. It’s doable.”

As kids acclimate to their new classrooms and kinks are worked out, Broder is optimistic and especially proud of her teachers.

“They are super teachers,” said Broder. “Everything they’ve done, a little bit nervous, they’ve risen to the occasion. They are the most awesome teachers in the world.”

Frances Wang