Galt Adventist School opened its doors to 25 students last week, after being shuttered since spring due to the COVID pandemic. The small private school is the first in the area to be allowed to open its doors under strict guidelines from both the state and county health departments. Only K-6th grade students are back on campus, 7th-8th grade students will need to wait for further restrictions from the county to be lifted.

Principal and teacher Jennifer Lalas said it hasn’t been the usual first week of school.

“We have their desks six feet apart and they must wear masks while indoors,” Lalas said. “We do lots of disinfecting. Older grades exit from a different place than the younger grades.”

But some things never change.

“They are excited to be back,” Lalas said. “They’re most happy to be back with each other.”

Lalas said their 7th and 8th graders are still waiting to return until the county health department gives the go-ahead.

“Overall, it’s been a good thing for the students,” Lalas said. “It’s a positive thing for staff, even with the extra work.

Being flexible is the key, according to Lalas. Currently, the school only has two classrooms – one for kindergarten through 2nd and another with 3rd through 5th graders.

“No matter what you plan for, it’s different when you get them here,” Lalas said. “The first couple of days we’re adjusting – not the normal routine.”

She said it really helps to have “a good group of kids” and parents who work with the teachers. Compared to distance learning, Lalas said it’s much better for both the students and the teachers.

“(Having) parents who are gracious and patient with their students and with staff really helps,” Lalas said.