Montgomery County students will return to full-time, in-person learning Monday. It will be the first time in a year and a half that some of the children are in a classroom or see a teacher in person.
Parents and kids lined up for ice cream Sunday night in Bethesda, where they opened up about first-day jitters, but kept their expectations positive and hopeful overall.
"I'm excited to be in person and see all my friends, and I think that wearing a mask might make it a little bit different, but I think it's definitely worth going to school in person and just having to wear a mask," student Maya Ehrlich said.
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Parents and students said they will try to be ready for whatever may come. Staff must be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing, and children in pre-K through 6th grade will be randomly tested for COVID-19.
"I think we can take an example from the kids. They've been great throughout this whole thing," parent Allison Ehrlich said. "It's been tough for them and they've weathered it better than I think any of us could've expected."
In the county, masks will be required in the school building and on the bus. Schools will also use outdoor space for learning and lunch to allow for social distancing.
A few boys who will start their first year of high school said they were looking forward to a basically normal experience, excited to be back in class.
Sandra and Shiraz Ali have four kids who are heading back to elementary, middle and high school.
"[We're] still concerned, but you know, we've done the best that we can do by having our three oldest that are eligible vaccinated," Sandra Ali said.
Though they still have some reservations, they too look forward to the first day of school.
Howard, Charles, Arlington and St. Mary's counties, along with D.C. and the city of Falls Church, will also welcome students back on Monday.