The four middle schools in the Merced City School District brought about half of their students back into the classroom.
MCSD Deputy Superintendent Doug Collins said, "They are on campus for the first time in a year essentially and there are some nerves with that, but I think they're really excited to be back."
Parents have the option of keeping their kids at home for remote learning, which has been difficult for many students.
Alexia Ruiz was among the 7th graders excited to make the jump to middle school and actually be able to visit with friends.
The Cruickshank 7th grader explained, "It's been very hard. It's kind of been frustrating because I haven't been able to use my social skills. I'm very excited because I get to see my friends, teachers, and I get to make more friends."
A year ago, we watched Danielle Taijeron teach classes online.
Her return to in-person English and Social Studies teaching at Tenaya Middle School was an emotional one.
Taijeron said, "8th graders coming back in on campus, it was great to see. Even through the mask, you could see them smile. They've got their squinty eyes and they're like, Hi Miss T. It was a joy, it was a pleasure to see."
Staffers in the district were able to get vaccinated before their return.
The mood on all four campuses seemed to be the same.
Collins said, "I was watching a teacher greet a group of students and said, 'We're back!' It was just really fun to see."
Alexia Ruiz added, "I wish I could hug my friends but I'm going to look up and remember all the things I took for granted."
Maybe that will become a writing assignment at some point.