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Chicago Archdiocese Schools Return To Class With Tight Restrictions Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill. (CBS) -- The coronavirus has certainly put a strain on parents, teachers and school officials.

While most districts are opting for virtual learning or hybrid models as the 2020-2021 school year begins, the Chicago Archdiocese moved full speed ahead Monday with in-class instruction.

CBS 2's Jeremy Ross went to Queen of the Rosary School in Elk Grove Village Monday to see how the first day of school went.

As students left school for the day Monday, dismissal was different. Kids from ages 3 to 13 waited to be picked up while spaced an arm's length apart to start.

This school year, things are much different from how they have been anytime in living memory.

"Talking about how we have to social distance," said eighth-grader Bianka Zaborowski.

"Still exciting, but it was a little bit more stressful," added Principal Kathleen McGinn. "I think it's just going to be the routine they pick up on rules very easily and in general, very cooperative."

Bianka and her 244 other classmates will all need to wear masks this year.

"My mom just ordered it," Bianka said as she displayed her mask.

McGinn reached out early to get students practicing wearing masks.

Plans to safeguard students from COVID-19 began back in the spring. The results showed hallways that look more like divided one-way highways, and there were temperature checks at the door.

Classrooms that once had communal rounded tables now have small forward-facing desks, marked and separated by six feet.

And then there is special attention to work areas. Desks that can't be six feet apart have plastic shields.

"You disinfect in the morning and disinfect after they leave," said teacher Donna DiVella.

DiVella has added sanitizing to her classroom routine.

As much as possible kids will remain grouped in classrooms. Most will eat lunch and learn in them.

That way, if a student tests positive for coronavirus, the class – as opposed to the entire school - will be quarantined and learn from home.

"Hopefully, we're going to stay, you know, without any shutdowns," a parent said.

"Everyone was happy to see each other, but even from a distance," Bianka said.

While most attended school at Queen of the Rosary in person Monday, about 10 percent of the school's student body stayed home for online learning and will do so for about the first third of the school year.

Most of the 199 Chicago Archdiocese schools will start this week or next week.



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