Students, staff mask up for first day of school

Photos By Leann Burke/The Herald
Fourth-grader Angela Angeles and second-grader Gio Angeles, center, enter Holy Trinity Catholic School’s Central Campus as teachers Jill Sargent, left, Stephanie Pinkstaff, Kari Seal and Bridget Schneider greet them for the first day of school Wednesday morning.


JASPER — COVID-19 may be altering pieces of the school routine, but it didn’t stop the staff at Holy Trinity Catholic School’s Central Campus from excitedly welcoming students back to class Wednesday morning.

Mask-clad teachers and staff members lined the sidewalk on the east end of the building holding signs that said “Welcome Saints” in purple and yellow letters, waving pompoms and cheering as music played in the background.

Like their teachers, many of the students, too, were excited to get back to class.

Second-grader Eva Lemen and her sister, kindergartner Kate, grinned as they posed inside the Holy Trinity Saints photo frame outside the building.

“Smile girls!” their mom, Brandy, said as she snapped the first-day-of-school photo.

Before saying goodbye to their mom, Eva pulled on her mask, and Kate did one last check of her supplies. Water bottle? Check. Hand sanitizer? Check. Mask? Uh oh. She’d forgotten it in the car. Brandy ran back to get it and helped her position it just right before the sisters headed inside.

As the sisters walked into the building, they passed a hand-sanitizer dispenser, one of many new additions to the halls to help keep COVID-19 from spreading. Other precautions include spacing the desks farther apart in the classrooms and closing school buildings to all visitors, parents included.

Heidi Rasche has three children at Holy Trinity — kindergartner Bennett at Central Campus and sixth-grader Eli and eighth-grader Xavier at East Campus.

“It is what it is,” she said. “We’re doing the most we can do.”

Kindergartner August Peter, left, and his mom, Niki, take a first-day-of-school selfie outside Holy Trinity Catholic School’s Central Campus Wednesday morning.

For Bennett, the COVID-19 precautions, such as wearing a face covering throughout the day, will just be part of school. For the older two, Heidi said, it will be a little bit of an adjustment, but nothing they can’t handle.

“They just think it’s different to have to wear masks all day,” she said. “We’re pretty go with the flow.”

As school begins across the county, teachers, students and staff will put into practice months of safety planning that covers all aspects of the school day and how to respond in the event of positive COVID-19 case. While how well the plans work in practice remains to be seen, the guidelines in place were enough to help some parents, like Brandy, feel comfortable sending their children to in-person classes.

“We feel like the school has taken all the precautions they can take,” Brandy Lemen said. “And we feel it’s the best thing for the kids.”

More on