Springfield students among many across the area returning to the classroom

Monday marked the first day of school for students in many districts around western Massachusetts.
Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 11:46 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 29, 2022 at 4:14 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Monday marked the first day of school for students in many districts around western Massachusetts.

It was goodbye summer and hello textbooks Monday morning at Edward P. Boland Elementary School in Springfield as first to fifth graders walked into their classrooms for the first time this school year.

Western Mass News found that some kids, like fourth grader Allen Keith Smith, Jr., were ready to get started.

“I like math. Really, I like all of the subjects in math,” Smith Jr. explained.

“I’m a little bit of happy. I’m growing up too fast and then I’m going to be in sixth grade after [this year]” said fifth grader Genesis Bella-Herrera.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, students and teachers had to deal with either online learning or in-person teaching with safety protocols in place. This year, Boland Principal Lisa Bakowski is ecstatic to welcome all of the students and teachers with strict precautions dialed down.

“The kids are so excited to be here. The staff is giddy about receiving the kids and it feels wonderful to have a normal start,” Bakowski explained

We found many parents on-hand as well and with masks now optional in Springfield Public Schools, Allen’s father told us the start of the new school year brings a sense of “freedom.”

“We didn’t let him go and play with anybody because we didn’t want him to get sick. We didn’t want him to go through COVID or anything,” said Allen Keith Smith Sr.

Now, with the year officially in high gear, parents and guardians have high expectations for their kids.

“Really to pass all his [Jomar’s] subjects and not get crazy or nothing, just to stay safe really,” said Janyana Linares, cousin of a first grade student.

“I want [Genesis] to achieve through everything because she has everything in this country. When I grew up, I didn’t have that like her,” said Juana Herrera.

Bakowski praised her teachers for helping start the year off without a hitch.

“They were in last week. They were in the week before, just getting everything ready to have a welcoming environment for their students and to make sure that everything’s perfect and ready to go for today,” Bakowski noted.

Kindergartners will have their first day of school on September 7, followed by pre-schoolers on September 8.