SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- Tens of thousands of students in the San Bernardino City Unified School District headed back to school Monday morning.
Teachers and administrators greeted smiling students at Cypress Elementary School for the first day back to school. Some parents said the day feels the closest to normal since the start of the pandemic, including those first-day jitters.
"Excited honestly," said Jason Nieves about dropping his son off to school. "Pretty sad too, because you know, he's been here with me the whole time and now, but it's alright. Only a few hours, no big deal."
"It's bittersweet," said Isiah Arrieta, another parent. "I'm a little emotional because it's my son, it's my little boy, but it's a good school and he's learned so much so I'm proud of him, especially during COVID, it was kind of trying times having to be a teacher with him, everything was virtual, so that was kind of tough."
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Sandra Rodriguez says schools in the district will continue to be cautious and practice COVID safety protocols.
"I would say that probably the first line of defense for our families and students is if the student is not feeling well, for them to stay home," Rodriguez said. "They need to be monitoring their student every single day to make sure that they're well enough to come. If they do come to school and let's say they're not feeling well, we do have lots of precautions here on the campus."
Parents say they're also glad to have their students getting in-person attention after having to do online-learning.
"Online school, it was harder for them," said Myra Rabdan about her two sons. "They really didn't learn that much and being here hands-on, the teacher being able to help them, one student at a time, it's much better. I've seen a big difference from their grades going up."
A new state law went into effect last month requiring middle and high schools to start later. That actually won't go into effect in San Bernardino until next August due to a collective bargaining agreement.
"We have within our collective bargaining agreement, we're still negotiating that," Rodriguez said. "So that was one of the areas that precluded us from moving forward with it. We have been doing a lot of preparations, but we still need to go through the process of negotiations."
Some parents are worried about the scheduling when the late start rule does go into effect. Dr. Rodriguez said all schools in the district will have optional before and after school programs to hopefully take some of the stress off parents.