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Vacaville Students Welcomed Back For In-Person Learning After Over A Year

VACAVILLE (CBS13) - It's a sight for sore eyes and music to the ears of middle and high school students in the Vacaville Unified School District.

Students are back on campus for in-person learning.

"It feels really good to be back," Caitlyn Chalmers, a senior at Will C. Wood High School, said.

Being masked-up and socially distant means a lot for Chalmers. She and the rest of her senior class are able to have somewhat of a normal ending of her senior year.  

"It means a lot just to see everyone for a little bit before we go our separate ways," Chalmers said.

"As we got further along with staying at home, I really didn't think it was going to happen."

Chalmers told CBS13 that she was a junior when she and her classmates were forced into distance learning.

Having students still online and in-person, English teacher Traci Ruiz's classroom is a little out of character. It's also giving her and others something else to juggle. They're shifting gears to help those six feet apart and those at home virtually. 

"Dividing your attention is always a struggle. Technology is always a struggle. It's the usual things but all of that is kind of a small drop in the bucket," Ruiz said.

For the next two weeks, Vacaville Unified will have students on campus at 25 percent capacity on the assigned weekday that matches with their last name.  

"There's like maybe two people in the classroom. It's very different," Chalmers said.

After spring break, it will go to two days a week at 50 percent capacity.  

The school's principal, Adam Rich, is confident that they'll be able to keep social distancing in check as more kids check into class.  

Rich said that their staff will be making sure that students will be wearing proper masks, asking students if they're experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, and enforcing all proper sanitization and social distancing guidance.

"We have to give students the information that they need and we have to...positively reinforce it but, also, if we have to back down we will," Rich said. "Students have to understand that this is about their safety. It's about the safety of the staff here."

There's a sense of confidence among students that they'll stay committed to the guidance so that they can continue to learn in-person in the future amid the pandemic.

"The people that I know, they want to come back. And so, I think we'll kind of do whatever we have to do so we can stay in school," Chalmers said.

Rich told CBS13 that students are still able to get lunch at the school cafeteria. Vacaville Unified said that, at the end of the school day around 1:30 p.m., students can pick up their lunch at the school cafeteria and will then be instructed to leave campus.

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