For tens of thousands of students at University of California schools in Southern California, in-person instruction for the 2021-22 school year began Thursday. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, many students were previously enrolled in virtual classes for 18 months.
Students will return to a new set of protocols, including a requirement to wear masks indoors and a vaccine mandate for all students and staff.
At UC Riverside, students and staff are returning to new protocols as well as numerous renovations to the campus.
"Students are returning to a campus that’s much different from when they left. There are several new facilities including the Student Success Center [along] with 1,100 classroom spaces, new residence halls, new research buildings, and parking. So, we’re ready to welcome them back," said UCR Vice Chancellor Johnny Cruz.
Despite the changes, students told FOX 11 they are excited to return to campus.
"I’m studying biomedical engineering and I’m really happy to be back on campus, especially since last year we were all indoors sitting on laptops and being on Zoom calls," said UCR freshman Dominik Durdovic.
"I’m looking forward to actually making friends on campus and getting to know the school," UCR sophomore Lynna Orla said.
Students also returned to campus at UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, and UC San Diego Thursday.
Tune in to FOX 11 Los Angeles for the latest Southern California news.