Rim Country Middle School Principal Jennifer Murphy greets a student on the first day back Monday.

Payson school administrators gave the Payson Unified School District board glowing reviews for the return to in-person learning Monday.

Principals from the district’s five schools all said both students and staff were excited to be back on campus after a seven-month absence. The district has been teaching remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The school board returned to in-person learning despite the county still failing to meet two state guidelines for safely returning to in-person instruction.

Linda Gibson, district superintendent, asked administrators to give the school board both highlights of the first day back as well as any challenges they faced.

Jeff Simon, principal at Payson High School, said high school students are not typically the most excited group to be at school, but even he was surprised how happy everyone was to be back Monday.

Renae Short, lead teacher at Payson Center for Success, echoed Simon, saying students were super excited to be back and got right to work.

A hiccup they ran into was running out of OdysseyWare user accounts with so many students learning remotely through the program. OdysseyWare is the program the district uses for online learning. Simon said they had an additional 15 students move to online learning Monday.

He said this a good problem to have as the students could have switched to Primavera, a competing online school, which would have meant a loss in district funding.

At the middle school, Principal Jennifer Murphy, said she was so excited to return to in-person learning she felt like a kid on Christmas morning.

She said things went smoothly on the first day and they are working on incorporating outdoor time where students can remove their mask and take a break. She said this also gives teachers a time to clean their classrooms.

Julia Randall Elementary Principal Kim Yates said teachers were thrilled to have students back.

She said a transition they are working on involves parents. Parents are no longer allowed on campus and many like to greet their students when they pick them up after school. Yates said they are discouraging this and asking parents to wait in their vehicles.

Finally, at Payson Elementary School, Principal Michelle May said it took some time to get students from parent drop-off to class, but that should speed up as students get used to going to school again.

Contact the editor at abechman@payson.com

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