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Hillside Students Set to Go All In

Hillside faculty celebrating hard work with ahead of April 12th with an ice cream truck treat It’s back to school for Hillside Elementary School students who will be returning to full time in-person instruction next week.

As part of their all-in model, Hillside will welcome all of its little learners back to the classrooms on April 12.

“We are really excited to be bringing our students back together next week,” said Hillside Elementary School Principal Amy Cazes. “Our teachers and staff have been working to ensure that we can bring everyone in safely.”

While remote learning will be offered for those who are unable to attend in-person, many students will be heading back to school for five days a week of learning inside the classroom. The effort to bring the students all-in was aided by the Hillside Elementary School Re-entry Committee which developed a robust re-opening plan with help from the community. The committee sought to invite students back to school in a safe and secure way.

“Our re-entry team worked collaboratively to create a document that not only outlined our re-entry plan but also included frequently asked questions so our families could feel that any of their questions were thoughtfully addressed,” said Cazes.

Formed in July, the re-entry committee has worked closely with the administration over the months to incorporate protocols unique to Hillside and the needs of its staff and students. Developing the re-entry plan over time came with some extra work, but for those on the committee, all the work has been worth it.

“Just to see their faces when they were told we would be doing reading and writing every day,” said second grade teacher and re-entry committee member Lisa Levine. “You would have thought it was their birthday, they were just so genuinely excited.”

For Levine, who has been a member of the committee since its formation, it has been a long road but the end goal of offering in-personal learning to all made it easier to forge ahead.

“The kids are craving to be in the building, to see their friends, to have more structure,” she said. “They want to be in school.”

For staff and administrators, the safety for Hillside students has always been the district’s top pirority. With the procedures addressed in the re-opening plan, the committee will ensure the children will be in a consistently safe learning environment when they return.

“The staff has done an amazing job in making the kids feel safe,” said Levine. “They are learning about routines and good hygiene just to make them feel super secure.”

“It has truly been a collaborative effort with our staff and our community and with everyone working together,” added Cazes. “We are confident that we will be able to provide the best learning environment for our children.”

For the day of the return, Cazes maintained that teachers will continue to infuse social-emotional learning into Hillside curriculum with the opportunity for students to engage and connect with their classmates. Students stepping back into Hillside on Monday might find it a little bit different.

“Our re-entry team has been planning plan some special surprises the first day back,” she said.

“I know they’re planning on doing signs and playing music to get the students really excited,” added Levine.

In her own classroom, Levine said, she will mix the fun with the practical.

“When they come into my class there will be a sign to wash your hands and then another sign to do a dance,” she said. “So, we’re just going to laugh and giggle to get our nervousness out before we start and just be super happy the second we walk in the door.”

The full re-entry plan for Hillside Elementary School can be found here.