Year-round elementary school students return to class in Charlotte County

Reporter: Erika Jackson Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Year-round elementary school students in Charlotte County prepared for the first day back to school Tuesday, July 12, 2021. Three elementary schools in Charlotte County offer a year-round academic program. Credit: WINK News.

It was the first day of school for hundreds of kids in Charlotte County.

Parents have the option to send their kids to year-round school, and those students returned to class Tuesday after their month-long summer break ended.

Sallie Jones Elementary School in Punta Gorda is setting the example for others to follow after a year where nothing felt normal for students.

Ethan and Hailey Shafer are excited for the new school year.

Jacob Hirtzel is ready to take on second grade.

Zane and August Ackerman are thrilled to be back in the halls of Sallie Jones Elementary.

“I have some new friends, and that my old friends are still in my classroom,” August said.

A new school year also comes with new challenges.

“My teacher is Ms. Nucleas. It’s a really hard name,” Zane said.

Three Charlotte County elementary schools are year-round, including Sallie Jones, Peace River Elementary School and East Elementary School. Summer vacation lasts five weeks, and then students have longer breaks in the fall, spring, and at Thanksgiving. Law enforcement will monitor the roads outside of each school before and after the bell rings.

“It’s particularly positive for children in the elementary grades to have that consistency of going year-round,” said Elizabeth Elliot, an early childhood education professor at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Year-round students will have the option to go to school with or without a face covering this school year.

“I like it without masks because the teachers like seeing your faces,” Zane said.

Teachers will get to see the faces of students plenty over the next 10 months. The students we spoke to told us they’re excited to be back.

“It’s safe, and it’s fun, and the teachers are really nice,” Zane said.

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