Elementary students in South Pasadena return to the classroom

Some South Pasadena elementary students returned to the classroom for the first time in nearly a year on Thursday.

For some of the little ones, it’s their first day of school ever. For others, it's back to the campus they haven't seen since the pandemic began. 

Last week, the South Pasadena Unified School District school board approved the physical reopening of schools for in-person learning in preschool through second grades. Students who returned to the classroom on Thursday chose the district's hybrid instructional model.

"No one is more excited than me," said Dr. Laurie Narro, Principal of Monterey Hills Elementary.

Narro said that students will see many changes when they return to the classroom, including desks spaced six feet apart, hand sanitizer all over campus, Plexiglass between teachers and students, markers outside to help maintain social distancing, among other safety protocols.

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Parents have to do a complete online health check-in for kids before coming to school and show proof of that, temperatures will be taken before they go into class and, of course, masks must be worn at all times.

About 240 Monterey Hills Elementary students returned to in-classroom instruction on Thursday. 

"We still have a number of our families who chose to remain in the distance-learning classroom. Our teachers are exceptional and have done a really good job at teaching children to be on a Zoom class. Many of the families have chosen to wait a little bit longer, and they will remain in the Zoom classrooms, virtual classrooms," said Narro.

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Many parents were especially excited to get their children back in school.

"After a while, it felt like this day was never going to come... it's been a long 11 months," one parent told FOX 11's Gigi Graciette.

"All the teachers and administration here have done such an amazing job," another parent said. "We're just so excited to be back on campus."

Los Angeles County recently met the state's threshold to allow schools to resume in-person classes for students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. The county's case rate dropped to an average of 20 new cases per 100,000 residents, easily meeting the state threshold of 25 per 100,000 residents.

Although meeting the threshold allows elementary schools to reopen, it does not require them to do so. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Tuesday that 12 of the 80 school districts in the county have already had reopening plans approved, and plans for two more districts were being reviewed.

A total of 173 private or charter schools have also had plans approved, with seven other private/charters awaiting approval of their plans.

RELATED: Stay up to date on all coronavirus-related information