Wilton: Hope fills air on first day back to school

WILTON — There were a thousand moving parts leading up to it, but when Tuesday morning came for the start of in-person school, things appeared to be running as smooth as possible at Miller-Driscoll.

There were a few teary eyes, but those were kindergarten parents bidding their children farewell for their first day of public school.

Students, meanwhile — wearing masks, determined countenances, and toting their backpacks — exchanged greetings with the bevvy of staff and strolled comfortably to their selected spot to be introduced — or re-introduced — to their school.

“Look at these kids,” observed principal Kathryn Coon. “They’re ready.”

She said she and the staff were “over the moon” with the excitement of in-person school resuming, even in its modified form with half the students coming on one day and the other half on the next.

“So far everything seems to be pretty smooth,” said Superintendent of Schools Kevin Smith, who made the tour of all the schools in the early morning, finally arriving at Miller-Driscoll to say hi to parents and help guide the students from cars and buses.

“We’re excited to have kids back in school for sure,” he said. “It’s been a long time and this is all very, very positive.”

“We’re excited,” said math coach Laura Connell, who arrived early with her own daughter Emily, 7, who is entering second grade.

“It’s just going to be so good to see the kids,” she said. “It’s going to be great.”

Parents, likewise, expressed their appreciation for the arrival of in-person instruction.

“I think the Board of Ed and the administrators have really done a good job of preparing everyone,” said Jennifer Jaehnig, whose daughters Scarlett, 6, and Alice, 7, headed to class.

“It feels good,” she said. “Our kids are very excited to go back to school.”

Several drop-off spots for parents were in operation at the school, with drop-off times staggered to keep traffic moving and dozens of staff members greeting and guiding kids to the doors.

The dozens of buses that serve the school were scheduled after, with the numbers of students arriving on them noticeably lower than usual, with some even containing just one or two students.

“We’re excited,” said parent Caroline Gulati, who dropped off her twin second graders Aurora and Winnie, 6.

“I think it’ll be better than we think,” she said, expressing a hope apparent among many of the staff and families on site.

“We’re happy that they’re in-person,” said parent Robert Gibbons, “and I hope that they keep the virus under control and they can stay for the year.”