BELLEVILLE, Ill. – Thousands more kids go back to school today in the metro-east.

This time it’s younger students in Belleville District 118.  District 118 serves Pre-k through 8th graders in Belleville. There are 11 schools in that district with about 3,300 students. 

Superintendent Ryan Boike said he is looking forward to a more “normal” school year in his words where no one has to wear masks. However, COVID is still a concern. Boike told us there are nurses at all schools and he is asking families to watch the health of their kids. 

He shared that the student population in the district is diverse and that equity and inclusion are high priorities. 

Boike said another concern he has is that children’s education may have suffered during the pandemic. He expressed that more staff members have been hired in his district to help keep class sizes down and maximize educational opportunities. 

“Kids are going to get more attention,” said Boike. “We also hired more instructional coaches this year to support our teaching staff. We’ve got more support staff in place in terms of school social workers, school psychologists, our school nurses, our interventionists, so we feel like we’re in a really good spot in addressing that learning loss due to covid.”

District 201 is the other school district in Belleville. It serves Belleville East and West High Schools where classes are already underway. 

One new component in that district is called The Cave – it’s a brand new vocational and alternative education center off Route 15 at what used to be the Kings Point Tennis Center. 

Programs there include culinary arts, automotive, carpentry construction, welding, and machining. 

There is a computer lab for students to use as well.