In East Grand Forks, first day of school resembles a return to normalcy

On the first day of school in the East Grand Forks School District on Tuesday, Sept. 7, some students were wearing masks and some weren't. Other than that, the year's first drop-off seemed to proceed as normal.

Carissa and Anders Odegaard photograph their daughter and son, Nora and Owen, on their first day back to school at SouthPoint Elementary in East Grand Forks, Sept. 7, 2021. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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South Point Elementary School was a lively scene on the first day of school Tuesday morning, Sept. 7, as parents dropped off their students, some for the first time.

It was the first day of class for all schools in the East Grand Forks School District. Unlike last year, students are starting the school year fully in-person. The district has recommended, but not required, masks for those in the school buildings.

Principal Chad Grassel said that despite some normal trepidation about the pandemic, the first morning of the new school year was off to a good start.

"Our kids are kind of resilient to the whole thing," Grassel said. "Last year they seemed to do just fine. As I walked around the building today I saw that there were kids wearing masks and kids that weren't wearing masks. I guess that's a choice that kids and parents are going to have to make. Hopefully we can stay in person, and we're doing all the things that we can do to keep the school year going."

Aside from COVID precautions, the first day of school was more or less like any other. Groups of siblings and friends formed tight groups to search for their classrooms together. Teachers high-fived returning students, and several of the school's youngest students resisted tearfully as parents handed them off to teachers.


"We take good care of them," one teacher called after a mother as she left her sobbing daughter with her new classroom.

"I know," the mother responded tearfully.

Eevee Gordon, 3, was not one of the children who resisted her first day of preschool. Her mother, Zoey Gordon, said she guesses the first drop-off was harder on her as a parent than it was for her daughter.

"She's been excited -- really excited," Gordon said. "She's been excited to play with friends, to get out of the house. I think she's sick of mom and dad."

It's the first time Eevee has been away from her parents, and Gordon said she was anxious to hear about the first day later that afternoon. She said Eevee has been talking for weeks about going to school.

"We're excited for the school year," Gordon said. "I hope everyone has fun."

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