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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Public School students are back in the classroom for the first time in more than a year. They’re starting back at 50% capacity. 

“It’s been fabulous,” KCPS Superintendent Dr. Mark Bedell said.

While teachers in the KCPS got their first COVID-19 dose Monday, some of their students headed back to the classroom. As they enter the building, students are required to mask-up and pass a temperature check. 

“It’s just been tough, OK. This last year has been tough on so many of us as educator and also our families and so we know that there is daylight at the end of the tunnel and so let’s begin that phase-in process to get us back to some level of norm” Bedell said. 

The district is mimicking a hybrid model. Half the students attend in-person Monday and Tuesday. Everybody is online Wednesday, and the other half of students are at school Thursday and Friday. 

“I am so excited right now” Bedell said. “They’re finally back, and we’re looking forward to this phase in process.”

KCPS will “phase-in” by grade level. The district is starting off small — allowing Pre-K through third grade in the classroom.

Dylan Peralta, 8, gave the day a thumbs up. His sister, 16-year-old Esmeralda Hernandez, will have to wait a little while longer before they’re allowed in the building. 

Next week is 4th-6th grades. Then, 7th and 9th grades will start the hybrid schedule. 

The following week 8th graders and sophomores through seniors will attend in-person learning. 

“I’m looking forward to it since I’m going to be at home and also at school,” Hernandez said. “Sometimes a lot of people can’t concentrate, including me, me because there’s a lot of distractions at home.”

These schools have sat empty since March of last year. 

“Kiddos, are y’all happy to be back?” Bedell asked.

They yelled back, “Yeah!”

Bedell said it’s good to see students walking the halls — stepping over these stickers is a reminder to stay 6 feet apart and follow the new protocols.

“It’s just required us to be a lot more intentional in our setup to ensue that we are easily about to contact trace, should that be something that we have to do,” Bedell said. 

Bedell is hoping all students will be back in-person by May after the teachers get vaccinated. 

He also said virtual learning isn’t going anywhere. Just because students are allowed in the buildings doesn’t mean they have to go back. Bedell said virtual learning is still an option if that works best some families.