PHOTOS: Tears, trepidation and optimism as Casper schools start in COVID era - Casper, WY Oil City News
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PHOTOS: Tears, trepidation and optimism as Casper schools start in COVID era

Jesse Burges kisses her daughter, Ellie, while saying goodbye on the first day of the 2020 school year at Park Elementary School in Casper. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. – Masks don’t hide tears, as some parents may have realized during the first day of school on Wednesday morning.

Students and the majority of parents masked up in accordance of the new COVID reality and gathered around Park Elementary School.

Older kids were excited to reunite with friends, running into the playground and leaving their parents behind. Others clung closely to mom or dad as long as they possibly could.

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Visitors gathered outside the school’s playground gates for drop off. It was one of the new measures put into place to reduce visitors onto the school grounds. Another was to line up kits in upper classes across the street in an open area near the bus exchange.

Alisha Vanderheiden-Minchow dropped her daughter Tayven Nab off near the curb.

Alisha Vanderheiden-Minchow kisses her daughter Tayven Nab while dropping her off at Park Elementary on Wednesday morning. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

“I’m scared and nervous and excited,” said Tayven as she faced the start of 4th grade. After school was abruptly canceled in March, Tayven spent time at the Boys & Girls Club, and took trips with her family during the summer.

“I’m ready for school to start,” said Alisha. “We’ll just see what happens, but we’re excited that they can come back now.”

Heather Butler gave her son Collin a kiss as he ran to join his class. He’s one of four kids she’s seeing off to school today.

Heather Butler says goodbye to her son Collin on Wednesday morning. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

“It’s weird,” she said, coming back after so much time. “I’m going to miss them after being together for six months.”

Jesse Burges, who said goodbye to her daughter Ellie on Wednesday morning, said she felt optimistic about the upcoming year and her daughter was eager to get back to class.

“She said, ‘I’m wearing a mask and I’m going to school,'” said Jesse.