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School year begins with relaxed COVID measures

School year begins with relaxed COVID measures
School year begins with relaxed COVID measures 01:57

Azusa, California — As the new school year kicks off in Azusa, California, there's a new COVID-19 reality and fresh hope. 

Diane and Raul Ramirez say there's no substitute for their kids being back in the classroom full-time after two years of uncertainty. 

"It's exciting to be able to try and finally get back to normal," Diane Ramirez said. "I feel like we need to start getting back into the routine again." 

This year, school districts nationwide have dropped testing requirements and nearly 96% no longer require masks, according to Burbio's school tracker data. 

The lesson now is safety, says Azusa Unified School District nurse Melissa Lofton. 

There are numerous sanitizing stations throughout the school buildings and the district used federal funds to improve ventilation in every classroom. If a student tests positive, Lofton said they won't send the class home, but will notify families. 

"Living with COVID now, I think, is doable," Lofton said. "Keeping students in school has really helped with mental health and emotional well-being." 

That's echoed by parents like Reenia Covington, who said she's "happy the kids are back with their friends at school, with teachers." 

"This is where they need to be," Covington said. 

Lofton says parents should stay vigilant — good hygiene like hand washing is key, and at the very first sign of illness, keep kids home and test frequently. 

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