INGLEWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- In March of 2020, Inglewood Unified School District notified its students and staff that schools would be closing. Now, more than 400 days later some students are finally getting back into classrooms.
"[My daughter] was scared that she would be the only kid," said Hudnall Elementary School parent Andrea Covington. "She was scared that nobody would be in uniform. Just everything was so scary. As soon as we got here, all the fear went away because the level of energy, and excitement and love."
Not only were students greeted by teachers and staff on their first day back, but Inglewood Police Department, Inglewood city council members and Los Angeles Rams mascot Rampage were also out to welcome them down the red carpet.
"When I was going to school, I came to school early so I could play on the playground with my friends," said Inglewood Mayor James Butts. "You know how many of these kids miss coming to school early to play on the playground before class? And it thrills us, thrills us, to have this event happen today."
All 13 elementary schools in the Inglewood Unified School District reopened. About 1,000 Inglewood pre-school and elementary school students returned for in-person learning for the first time in over year. But school officials said safety is still their number one priority, which is why they aligned their phased reopening plan with their vaccination plan.
"We closely monitored COVID-19 data and we made the decision to align our reopening plan with our vaccination plan for educators," said Inglewood County Administrator. "We worked collaboratively with our labor partners and we announced this date because we believe that it is safe to reopen our schools physically."
Inglewood students are split into two cohorts and are using a hybrid model of in-person and distance learning, but Covington said she's glad to have her daughter back in school just to have some social interaction.
"We're not from the city, so her social life has kind of went down," Covington said. "This is good for her social health and for her psychologically for her to just feel like she's not by herself sitting in her room all day and being around other kids, so this is wonderful for her growth."
School officials said they plan to fully reopen to all grade levels in the fall.
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Red carpet treatment for Inglewood students first day back to school
Inglewood students get a warm welcome on their first day back to school from Inglewood community members and Los Angeles Rams mascot Rampage.