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Eugene 4J Opens with Tempered Excitement

Karen Richards

The first day of school looked a bit different for staff and students in Eugene today [Friday], but after 18 months of changing protocols, teachers are well prepared.

Allan Chinn is the principal of Holt Elementary. He said they’re excited to have nearly 500 students for full-time school, and that about 30 kids will study remotely, noting “We’re a bit under our projection right now but class sizes still kind of are really where they should be, we’re at low 20’s, which is pretty nice.”

He said teachers look forward to having a year that’s closer to “normal,” but, “Last year trained us that change happens quickly, so we’re kind of ready to pivot at any moment if we need to, and that just adds a little extra stress.”


Chinn said each grade has a separate entrance, and students will stay in grade cohorts for recess and lunch. He says they haven’t set the bell schedule yet, so his voice will be the bell, for now.  

Credit Karen Richards
Fourth and fifth graders line up before their first day of school.

Today [Friday] was a big day for thousands of Eugene families. For the first time since 2019, students dressed for the first day of school, and packed their backpacks.


KLCC's Karen Richards spoke to Holt Elementary parents on the first day of school.


Olivia Reid’s son Michael studied online for Kindergarten. Today is his first day at Holt Elementary. She told KLCC, “We did a little first grade, first day of school dance and took some pictures and brought him over here, he’s excited.”

Klee Wiles-Pearson’s fifth grader is also a first-timer. The family moved to Eugene in early 2020. “We finally made the decision that his mental health, being socialized, was very important," said Wiles-Pearson, "and so we’re hoping that we’re doing the right thing by taking the risk of putting him back in school.”


Savanna Long expressed the same feelings for her fifth grader, saying, “It’s really the socialization aspect. They need it, and you have to trust the school will continue to be safe.”


Parents were reassured by detailed communications from the school, and the organization on the first day.

Karen Richards joined KLCC as a volunteer reporter in 2012, and became a freelance reporter at the station in 2015. In addition to news reporting, she’s contributed to several feature series for the station, earning multiple awards for her reporting.
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