School Climate & Safety Photos

The Tense and Joyous Start to the 2021 School Year, in Photos

By Jaclyn Borowski & Stacey Decker — August 19, 2021 1 min read
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Across the country, students are headed back to school. And across the country, the Delta variant is causing spikes in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, particularly in places with low vaccination rates.

U.S. schools have been operating in a pandemic for nearly a year and a half, yet the tension between wanting to provide in-person learning and keep school communities safe seems to be at an all-time high. Debates over COVID precautions are raging, too. And all of it has educators and school leaders fatigued.

Still, the bell sounds. The school doors open. And, kids (some vaccinated, some masked, and some not) flood in. Even the anxiety and uncertainty of today can’t overtake the nerves and excitement that typically characterize the first days of schools.

What does this mix of emotions look like? Take a look at our photo gallery to get a sense of how back-to-school is going.

Shannon, Miss., Code Enforcement Officer Jeremandy Jackson gives a student a high five as parents, city officials, teachers and others welcome students back for the first day of school at Shannon Elementary School Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021.
Students wait for their teacher on the first day of school at the Normont Early Education Center in Harbor City, Calif., on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021.
Joann Marcus of Fort Lauderdale, left, cheers as she listens to the Broward School Board's emergency meeting, Wednesday, July 28, 2021, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. A small but vocal group spoke vehemently against masks, saying their personal rights were being eroded and their children were suffering socially.
Swartz Creek resident Amy Rouleau holds up a sign that labels wearing masks as child abuse as hundreds of Genesee County residents protest against a mandatory mask mandate in schools on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, outside of the Genesee County Administration Building in Flint, Mich.. The Genesee County Health Department instituted a mask mandate for K-6 students school last week.
Protesters against a COVID-19 mandate gesture as they are escorted out of the Clark County School Board meeting at the Clark County Government Center, on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, in Las Vegas.
Tulsa resident Holly Sweet, who supports wearing masks, walks into the The Charles C. Mason Education Service Center before a TPS school board meeting in Tulsa on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. Visitors to the meeting were not allowed to carry signs into the meeting room.
Parent Rosa Vargas and her son, 9th grade student Victor Loredo, 14, walk home after getting tested at a Los Angeles Unified School District COVID-19 testing and vaccination site in East Los Angeles on April 15, 2021. California will become the first state in the nation to require all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. The statewide vaccine mandate for K-12 educators comes as schools return from summer break amid growing concerns of the highly contagious delta variant. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the new policy Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021 as he visited a San Francisco Bay Area school that has already reopened after summer break.
081721 LAUSD COVID Testing TNS BS
RN Dianne Moellering, left, gives Jose Luis Villanueva Hernandez his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as his daughter Natalie, 2, watches during a vaccination clinic at Ritenour High School on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, in St. Louis County, Mo. "I didn't feel nothing" said Hernandez. The vaccinations were available to anyone in the community.
Davis Eidahl, a science teacher at Pekin High School in Packwood, Iowa, says he doesn't believe in getting the COVID-19 vaccine because there hasn’t been enough evidence that they are effective. But he takes and offers all social distancing methods and doesn’t have a problem with people wearing masks.
Principal Andrea Harper hugs a student as Harper and Superintendent Kent P. Scribner greet students on the first day of school Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, at T.A. Sims Elementary School in Fort Worth, Texas.
Russell Rakestraw II hugs his son, fourth grader Russell Rakestraw III, in front of his elementary school while dropping off on the first day of classes in Richardson, Texas, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. Despite Texas Gov Greg Abbott's executive order banning mask mandates by local officials, the Richardson Independent School District and many others across the state are requiring masks for students.
Orchard Knob Middle School Assistant Principal Michael Calloway squirts sanitizer onto students hands as they arrive for the first day of school at Orchard Knob Middle School, in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021.
Student ambassadors line up for the ribbon cutting ceremony and first day of school at the new Hannah Marie Brown Elementary School in Henderson, Nev., Monday, Aug. 9, 2021. Doors opened Monday at schools in and around Las Vegas, where masks were required for the more than 300,000 students and about 18,000 teachers returning to in-person classes at the fifth-largest district in the nation.
Victoria Dickens wears a mask and face shield as she waits for her class assignment at Summit Elementary School in Summit, Miss., on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, during the first day of the 2021-22 school year for students in the McComb School District. The school district is requiring face masks on buses and campuses this school year.
Masked students wait to go their classrooms on the first day of school at Enrique S. Camarena Elementary School Wednesday, July 21, 2021, in Chula Vista, Calif. The school is among the first in the state to start the 2021-22 school year with full-day, in-person learning.
Students make their way to class for the first day of school at Tustin Ranch Elementary School in Tustin, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021.

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