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PAXTON — It might not seem like a big thing, but it meant one more move toward normalcy.

On Tuesday, Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School announced that all students would be able to enter through the front doors of the school.

It marked the first time in more than a year that has happened.

Principal Travis Duley said in an effort to maintain social distancing, the school had been having students enter and exit through separate doors, depending on their grade level.

“Prior to that, we had seniors enter through the commons area between the junior high and the high school,” Duley said. Juniors came in through a different door, “and freshmen and sophomores through the main entrance.”

“We decided we’ve got about a month left to let them come through the main doors,” so why not do it, he said.

Duley said students weren’t celebrating or commenting on the change. Still, he felt the move was significant.

He said there’s still “a long way to go,” but noted the district has also come a long way.

“I just think where we were in August,” he said.

March 16, 2020, was the last time the front doors had been used by all the students. That’s when PBL classes shut down completely because of the pandemic and students took all their lessons remotely.

In August, PBL returned to all-in-person learning, although classes let out two-and-a-half hours earlier than normal, at 12:40 p.m., to reduce exposures and to allow custodial staff more time to clean.

The school also went to a block schedule, meaning students have only four classes daily.

Students are able to eat breakfast starting at 7:30 a.m., but they pick it up in the lobby and take it to class to eat. Those who want it can take a sack lunch home when they leave for the day.

One other change is in the works: PBL will hold its graduation ceremony outdoors.

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