Photos: Elementary schools reopen with shining faces, colorful masks and some tears

Rene Saldivar, a language coordinator with the Pasadena Unified School District, takes the temperature of students.
Rene Saldivar, a language coordinator with the Pasadena Unified School District, takes the temperature of kindergarten students preparing for their first day at Jackson STEM Dual Language Magnet Academy in Altadena.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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Back-to-school 2021, with California campuses fully open for 6 million children, was supposed to bring relief — even celebration — for a mostly normal school year ahead. But a surge in the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus has reignited parents’ anxiety. For many, the safety and quality of schooling once again feel uncertain and tenuous.

“I wanted to be excited about a new school year, but now I am having to think: ‘Am I putting our health at risk by going to school in person?’” said Irma Villalpando, who has two high school daughters at the Maywood Center for Enriched Studies. “I am feeling very sad because I think that it is going to be another very difficult year.”

Julie Silk, Pasadena Unified School District 2021 Teacher of the year, leads her Kindergarten students..
Julie Silk, Pasadena Unified School District 2021 teacher of the year, leads her kindergarten students to their classroom for the first time at Jackson STEM Dual Language Magnet Academy.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Some parents have frantically explored limited online options. And questions over safety protocols are taking on an urgent tone: What happens if someone at my child’s school tests positive? What happens if my child is exposed — will their class be quarantined? Will their school close? Are all teachers vaccinated? What about coronavirus testing?

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Recorded cases and hospitalizations are up for children — although without any associated deaths, said county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. Documented cases among children through age 11 increased from 47 to 319 when comparing the two-week period ending June 26 with the two weeks ending July 24, according to county data. For ages 12 to 17, the number of cases rose from 34 to 211. Hospitalizations remained rare, about 1 in 100 cases among those 12 to 17.

Kindergarten student August Russell clings to his Mother Natalie Russell as she tries to comfort him.
Kindergarten student August Russell clings to his mother, Natalie Russell, as she tries to comfort him on his first day at Jackson STEM Dual Language Magnet Academy.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Students assemble on the first day of full-time, in-person instruction since the start of the pandemic.
Students assemble on the first day of full-time, in-person instruction since the start of the pandemic at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School in Anaheim.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Liliana Sandoval poses for her first day of school photo
Liliana Sandoval, 6, poses for her first day of school photo, being taken by her mother at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
A family walks to Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Adele Lakei, 8, and her 5-year-old brother, Samson, eat their breakfast at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
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Kindergarten students begin to line up at their front door as parents say goodbye.
Kindergarten students line up at their door as parents say goodbye at Jackson STEM Dual Language Magnet Academy.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Uyen Nguyen, left, places a mask on her 6-year-old daughter, Mia, as they arrive at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School.
Uyen Nguyen, left, places a mask on her 6-year-old daughter, Mia, as they arrive at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Aurora Flores, left, and Rene Saldivar take the temperature of students.
Playground aide Aurora Flores, left, and Rene Saldivar, a language coordinator with the Pasadena Unified School District, take the temperatures of students at Jackson STEM Dual Language Magnet Academy.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Maria Villegas, Director Of Curriculum And Instruction at Anaheim Elementary School District, helps a student.
Maria Villegas, director of curriculum and instruction at Anaheim Elementary School District, helps a student locate his classroom at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Jennifer Wray, right, leads Adam Pineda, 6, who missed his mother, to class at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School.
Jennifer Wray, curriculum coach at Anaheim Elementary School District, leads teary-eyed Adam Pineda, 6, who missed his mother, to class at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Students stand in a line
For the kindergarten and first-grade students, it will be their first time in a classroom.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A sixth-grade class uses Microsoft Surface Pro laptops issued to them by Anaheim Elementary District.
On the first day at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School, a sixth-grade class uses laptops issued by Anaheim Elementary School District.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Photo editing by Jacob Moscovitch.

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