A Pandemic First Day of School in California

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California Today

Masks, tears and joyousness arsenic students instrumentality to the classroom.

Soumya Karlamangla

Aug. 20, 2021Updated 1:03 p.m. ET


Families brought students to the archetypal  time  of schoolhouse  astatine  Normont Elementary successful  the Harbor City vicinity  of Los Angeles connected  Monday.
Credit...Allison Zaucha for The New York Times

The archetypal time of schoolhouse is stressful nether the champion of circumstances: picking the close outfit, navigating hallways and making caller friends.

And that’s erstwhile determination isn’t a pandemic.

Across California, millions of children person returned to classrooms, including much than 600,000 students successful the Los Angeles Unified School District who started classes connected Monday.

The archetypal day, for galore the archetypal clip backmost successful a schoolroom since March 2020, was some monumental and oh-so ordinary. Yes, determination were masks and staggered lunches, but besides reunions among buddies, tearful goodbyes with parents and confusing mathematics problems.

Today, we’re sharing first-day-of-school images from crossed the authorities arsenic good arsenic immoderate emails you sent maine astir however the large time went for you and your kids.


Credit...Tomas Ovalle for The New York Times

Jeremy Edberg, genitor to a 6-year-old successful Cupertino

“I couldn’t beryllium much excited astir the archetypal time of school! She is my oldest, but I’ve been reasoning astir walking my kid to schoolhouse since we bought our location 13 years ago. I teared up a small arsenic she went wrong (no parents allowed of course!) due to the fact that I was excited that she yet gets to spell to schoolhouse connected campus.”

Kristie Tappan, genitor to a 6-year-old

“She complained that determination are a batch of rules successful archetypal grade. You mightiness deliberation that she was frustrated astir each of the Covid rules, but no. The occupation is that you person to instrumentality turns speechmaking connected the legume container chair.”


Credit...Tomas Ovalle for The New York Times


Credit...Tomas Ovalle for The New York Times; Allison Zaucha for The New York Times

Cara Meredith, genitor to a third-grade lad successful Oakland who isn’t each that funny successful learning

“For a penning duty past week, helium answered the following:

What bash you similar champion astir being backmost successful school? Recess.
What’s your favourite taxable successful school? Recess.
How tin I [his teacher] assistance you execute your goals this year? Give maine much recesses.
What’s 1 extremity you person for yourself successful the 3rd grade? Earn much recesses.

At first, I tried to assistance him deliberation successful much world terms, but … our children person been done the wringer implicit the past 16 months: the slightest I tin bash is assistance him gain much recesses.”


Credit...Allison Zaucha for The New York Times

Ashley Ko, a precocious schoolhouse elder successful Saratoga who sent successful this poem astir her archetypal time back:

“I woke up 30 minutes earlier,
My eyes groggier than ZOOM eyes.
than that damning beeping machinery
18 months staring endlessly into my laptop
The large large spread of futuristic daydreams
Or hope, I guess.
Grabbed my backpack (what?!) my lunch, and
A mask. (yes, delight deterioration your mask, though I am
fully vaccinated, delight please deterioration it please)

Walked into school, 9-12 swarming similar bees
(Luckily, I did not get a bosom attack)
I was beauteous adjacent to the parking lot, had galore thoughts
Of turning backmost until …
(Do I hug? Uhh, bash I awkwardly basal 6 ft away?)

Sitting successful AP Language & Composition, forgetting
that I locomotion into a classroom.
Not a ZOOM link.
30 minutes into class.
(I miss my cat.)
40 minutes into class.
(I miss going to the bathroom
Without an e-pass.)
50 minutes into class.
(I miss my snack pantry,
quite desperately)
60 minutes into class.
(I request to power my pants
Into sweatpants, RIGHT NOW)
70 minutes into class
(I tin not hold to spell home.)

I inactive person 2 much classes to go.”


Credit...Clara Mokri for The New York Times


Credit...Clara Mokri for The New York Times

Julie Thompson, parent of 5-year-old twins successful Oakland

“We showed up that archetypal time and I’m gladsome we did. I’m ever amazed astatine however they blossom erstwhile they’re backmost successful school. I cognize different families made different decisions and nary of the options are great. We’re each doing our best.”

Michele Garzon, genitor to a fifth-grade lad successful Woodland Hills

“When I picked him up from schoolhouse helium seemed truly blessed but said it was weird, describing antithetic parts of the time to my teenage girl and maine connected our locomotion home. They ate extracurricular and were capable to play kickball (masks on), which was the item of his day.”

Kathy Kelley, genitor to precocious schoolhouse elder James

“He likes his English people and is funny successful 2 of the novels, ‘Catcher successful the Rye’ and ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.’

James: ‘I astir apt won’t get to work “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”’
Me: ‘Why?’
James: ‘School volition astir apt get unopen down … good astatine slightest we’ll person “Catcher successful the Rye.”’

Maybe Holden Caulfield is the close dependable for this trying time?”


Credit...Allison Zaucha for The New York Times


Credit...Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Jesus Gonzales, precocious schoolhouse statistic teacher

“By the extremity of the day, having students successful my class, each masked correctly, talking to each different and discussing a statistic problem; eating luncheon with my chap teachers; proceeding announcements implicit the intercom — I felt thing that I person been missing this past twelvemonth and a half: anticipation arsenic good arsenic an interior sadness for mislaid time.”

Julie McPherson, who reconnected with different genitor portion dropping disconnected her 3rd grader

“A dada recovered maine this morning, reminding maine that the past clip we spoke, we were speculating astir the school’s closing. That was aboriginal successful March 2020, days earlier the Bay Area lockdown. … Seeing him again made maine privation to weep — I truthful missed talking to him each morning! I would person hugged him if we were inactive doing that benignant of thing. It is singular however overmuch the clip passing is some elongated and compressed.”


Credit...Clara Mokri for The New York Times

Karen Liu, parent to 3 young kids

“We dropped disconnected our kids for the archetypal time of schoolhouse contiguous and it was truthful bittersweet! This is the lone twelvemonth they volition each beryllium astatine the aforesaid schoolhouse … I’m not feeling disquieted astir Covid since the schoolhouse is taking precautions. More disquieted astir what volition hap if our small feline needs to poop …”

Jenny Wong, genitor to a 2-year-old successful preschool successful L.A.

“As I dropped her off, I said, ‘Have amusive with your caller friends, I emotion you. See you later,’ my pharynx was swelling up and I walked the agelong mode location to look astatine photos of her … My foremost feeling is conscionable axenic happiness knowing she has her ain abstraction to marque friends and to play, play, play. Sad, but successful a bully way.”


Credit...Tomas Ovalle for The New York Times; Clara Mokri for The New York Times


Credit...Allison Zaucha for The New York Times

“I tin look close astatine the sun,” said Anthony Wexler, manager of the Air Quality Research Center astatine the University of California, Davis, “and it doesn’t fuss maine astatine all.”


Credit...Max Whittaker for The New York Times


  • Drought: Government forecasters said Thursday that the terrible drought that has gripped overmuch of the occidental fractional of the country, including California, is apt to continue astatine slightest into precocious fall.

  • A good fixer’s perspective: As wells tally adust crossed the state, a California good fixer reflects connected however easy the farmers tin hide that drought has agelong been a changeless here.

  • The compost state: California was the archetypal authorities to necessitate section jurisdictions to compost integrated waste. Now, a caller instrumentality requires that by January 2022, each cities and counties successful the authorities found a program to compost the integrated discarded going into trash cans, KCRW reports.

  • What you get: Take a look astatine $1.25 cardinal homes successful North Carolina, Connecticut and California. (Spoiler: The California location is the smallest.)





Credit...David Malosh for The New York Times

In her latest newsletter, the California edifice professional Tejal Rao talks up an herb-packed aioli luscious capable to beryllium the centerpiece of a due feast.


Credit...Courtesy of Cuyama Buckhorn

My colleagues astatine T Magazine recommend a enactment astatine Cuyama Buckhorn, a edifice adjacent brackish flats and wildflower fields successful Santa Barbara County’s distant precocious desert, 3 hours northeast of Los Angeles.

Whew, my heart.

The yearly three-legged canine picnic returned to San Francisco’s Duboce Park this weekend. The images SFist posted are the cutest things I’ve seen successful a agelong time. Enjoy.

Thanks for reading. Have a beauteous weekend. I’ll beryllium backmost Monday. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Make an unsound decision? (4 letters).

Jeremiah M. Bogert, Jr., Shelby Knowles, Miles McKinley and Steven Moity contributed to California Today. You tin scope the squad astatine CAtoday@nytimes.com.

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