On Monday, seniors were able to see all of their classmates back on campus for the first time. It was all smiles beneath the masks of Golden Valley High School seniors.
"It's so amazing," said senior Emerald Chandler. "As I was walking on campus this morning, you could see all the teachers so excited. They were cheering."
Emerald Chandler says she's been waiting on the change and the chance to greet her friends in person.
"Everything feels regulars, and I miss everything feeling regular," added Chandler. "It feels great."
Previously, students in the Merced Union High School District that opted for in-person learning were going every other day. This allowed for smaller class sizes and greater social distancing, but new CDC guidelines changed the game.
"The difference now is we can put students 3 feet apart," said Golden Valley High School principal Kevin Swartwood. "That's a new CDC guideline, so that's why we were able to have students come back every day.'
Now seniors in the Merced Union High School District are attending classes daily with masks and 3 feet of social distancing.
"I was most excited about the classrooms being filled," said Chandler. "Having all my friends with me as we're learning something and we're all laughing, that's what I was looking forward to ."
"I was shocked to see all my friends," said senior Dominic Tangann. "I hadn't seen them in a whole year in the classroom. It was something I was really looking forward to.'
Students can also choose to continue distance learning. After spring break, ninth through 11th graders will also start a five-day-a-week schedule.
"We did seniors right away because the days for seniors are so important," said Swartwood. "It's important for all the kids socially, emotionally. We need them back on campus.
Staff says they're planning for a small in-person graduation and are hoping to make some senior events possible as well. The last day of school is set for June 3.