DURHAM, N.C. — Monday is the first day back at school for Rogers Herr Middle School, a year-round school. It’s also the first day Otis Maben is back in the building as an 8th grade administrator.


What You Need To Know

Monday is the first day of year round school for Durham Public Schools

Roughly 3,200 students are back in the classroom for its year-round schools

Last year, the majority of Rogers Herr Middle School students were doing virtual learning with about 50 kids in the classroom

Now, 700 students are back in class


“Learning the building, learning the staff, learning the kids through a computer screen was definitely an experience that I never imagined that I would have to do," Maben said.

He’s got quite a busy schedule, checking in on classes and making sure students and teachers are adjusting to the new way of doing things.

“I think of it as a new normal. I think due to the pandemic things will never go back to exactly what it was. But one thing that we’re doing is we’re working with our students, and we’re giving them that resilience," Maben said.

And what better way to be resilient than sticking with a routine.

“Kids thrive off of structure, so they’re going explicitly through how the day works, where they should go, what stairwells they should use," he said.

There’s rules for using the bathroom. Lunch breaks, however, are the most complicated.

“Students, when they’re actively eating, they have to be 3 feet apart just for safety purposes. They also have assigned seats, so we’re having seating rosters, seating charts," he said.

It’s no secret things at Rogers Herr look a little differently. Still, Maben says nothing compares to being back in his office or strolling through the school's halls.

“Being able to interact with the students, being able to gage their faces, their body language. Those were things we could not capture virtually or through zoom," he said. "We just want to let the community know, let parents know, let families know that your child is in perfect hands, is in good hands."

And although Maben knows no plan is perfect, he says they’re certainly off to a good start.

“When you have your heart and your heart is in the right place, we're going to make sure we meet the needs of every individual. ... every child, every day and every way," he said.