ROCHESTER - The parents of Maple Street Magnet School students began lining up on Waldron Avenue on a scorching Tuesday afternoon around 2:40 waiting to pick up their children after their first day of school.
But it wasn't only the jitters of their child's first day of the new school year that was on their mind. A fusillade of COVID-19 safety concerns were also front and center, including how would their young children handle the mask requirements set forth as part of Rochester Schools' onsite learning guidelines.
First in line to pick up her daughter, Isla, a second-grader, Jade Davidson said she was thrilled to have her back in school physically after finishing last year's learning online.
"The remote learning was tough," Davidson said.
She said her daughter was very glad to return to class, partly because she and her husband have "been pumping her up to be ready."
"She hates wearing a mask," Davidson said. "But she's a bit of a social butterfly, so she's very excited to come back."
Davidson said the kids do get some "mask breaks" during the day when they hold classes outside where social distancing can be achieved.
Ken Parker was there to pick up two of his grandchildren, who are ages 7 and 9.
"They missed their teachers and friends," Parker said. "They are happy to be back."
Parker said he's retired so he'll be picking his grandkids up while their mom will drop them off in the morning.
"I'm looking forward to helping," he said.
John Gilbert, who was waiting for his seven-year-old daughter to emerge from the school, said she was "absolutely happy" to be back in a real classroom.
"She did OK online, but it's better to be in a classroom," Gilbert said.
He said he's sure the schools will keep students safe, and even if one or two COVID-19 cases turn up, the schools should stay open.
"We don't shut down over flu, and flu kills more kids than COVID," he said, "and we don't wear masks because of the flu."
Principal Erin Mahoney told The Rochester Voice she couldn't have been prouder of her staff and the community in making the school opening a success.
"This was a team effort on all parts," she said. "Everyone came together to make it happen."
As for the kids, they're taking it like champs, she added.
"These kids are so amazing, everyone has concerns how they respond," she said, "but they are so much more resilient than we give them credit for."