CALABASAS, Calif. — For the better part of the last 12 months, high school seniors Bethany Gould and Ava Gevisser have created their own "classrooms" from home — together outdoors, on their computers, and online.
But this week as they sat and wrapped up their homework, there was a new sense of excitement in the air.
It may be the middle of March, but for the two friends it was finally time to head back to school.
“Something is better than nothing," Gould said. "I think it will be very exciting to go to school and be with my friends, just to have those little conversations we haven’t had in class. It will be nice to have those once again.”
Both girls are students at Calabasas High School, one of several Southern California high school campuses that will welcome back students for in-person instruction on Monday.
To Gould and her mom Julee, hearing the news about the reopening caused a mix of emotions.
“There was first 'oh my gosh, we’re going back on campus' and then there was the 'oh my gosh, we’re going back on campus,'" Julee explained. "Then I remembered that LVUSD has had TK-3rd grade open since October and they’ve been able to work out all the kinks."
Naturally, her family had a few kinks to work out as well, spending the weekend busy getting to head back to school.
The two had health screenings to go over, backpacks to be taken out and dusted off, and new schedules to go over.
On campus at Calabasas High School, principal Sara Exner was doing some prep work of her own — Monday's date on the calendar fast approaching.
“We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, walking around campus and so I think when Monday happens it will be a good way for people who are worried about it to take a deep breath and say okay, we can do this," she said.
On Friday, Exner spent time walking the hallways herself — checking in on the classrooms to make sure everything was in order.
When Monday morning comes around, the majority of students will return to campus for the first time since March of last year. While there will only be a third of students on campus each day, who will take part in two morning classes, it will still mark an important step forward for the school.
"It’s hard to learn online, so I think everyone is really eager to get back to class to learn and see their peers outside of a 10-inch screen," Exner said.
Calabasas, like other schools in the district, has implemented a slew of new protocols to make sure students are safe to return. Desks are spaced six feet apart, there is PPE in every classroom, floor markers are shown throughout campus to keep students spaced apart, and masks will be required at all times.
Despite the changes, Exner and the Gould's shared the same attitude, an eagerness to get back to normal.
“It’s everything," Julee said. "We’re very lucky, my family is excited and ready to go to school. So, I’m looking forward to my kids getting used to sitting in a classroom again, having contact with people, and being able to see friends on campus."
It's a new look to going back to school, but in the air was the same excitement as every year before.