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Pope Farm Elementary welcomes first students for in-person learning

The new elementary school was set to open in the fall of 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the start date to February 2021.
Published: Feb. 1, 2021 at 8:42 PM CST
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DANE COUNTY, Wis. (WMTV) - Students in the Middleton Cross Plains Area School District (MCPASD) got their first look inside the new Pope Farm Elementary School Monday as the district welcomed elementary school students back for in-person learning.

Parents, families and students all shared in the excitement of the first day in the new building.

“I think every parent I saw driving away from drop off had a huge smile plastered on their face,” said parent Kathryn Hartung.

Hartung has two kids at Pope Farm Elementary. She said it is a relief to see them back with their teachers and friends.

“It just felt like this weight lifted off your shoulders to feel like my kids are in a safe place, and they’re learning and they’re alongside other kids,” she described.

Elementary school students in MCPASD are coming back in a hybrid model. Students are divided into two groups, and each group spends two days of the week in-person and the other three virtually.

With a growing student population in MCPASD, the goal of Pope Farm is to give students room to grow and take the pressure of the other schools. The district’s seventh elementary school had an original opening date in fall 2020.

The pandemic delayed that start date until February 1. Parents said their kids could not wait.

“Our kids have watched this school being built from the ground up, so they were so excited to step inside today and see everything on the inside after looking at the outside for so long,” Hartung said.

Jeff Roepsch lives a few houses down from Pope Farm. He said his daughter planned her first day all weekend.

“She was looking forward to everything, from the classrooms to the hallways to the gymnasium,” Roepsch said, adding, “She had her backpack ready to go on Friday.”

Both Roepsch and Hartung said they are happy for their kids, but they are glad the district waited to reopen and is still putting safety first.

Hartung listed just some of the precautions, saying, “They’ll have to wear masks, they’ll have to socially distance, they have small classes.”

Roepsch added, “I’m happy that they’re going back both in-person as well as online.”

MCPASD is also working to bring back middle schoolers on February 22 and high school students on March 11. The School Board plans to vote on those dates on February 8.

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