Nearly 40% of OC schools will be back to some type of in-person learning by the end of the week

Danielle Loebner dropped her daughter off at West Orange Elementary Monday morning for the first time in months.

"I'm a little nervous but I'm also excited, it's time to get back into somewhat of a normal routine. So we're excited but nervous," said Loebner.

In the Orange Unified School District, it's happening in phases: Pre-K through 1st grade started on Monday; 2nd and 3rd grades will start on Wednesday; and 4th and 5th grades will start on Friday.

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Heading back-to-school will look different this year due to COVID-19. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new rules in July ahead of the fall semester.

Middle schools will re-open Oct. 1, and high schools will open Oct. 15. Across the district, masks are mandatory for third grade and up. Kids in lower grades have the choice between a mask and a face shield. Other health and safety protocols are also in place.

"One of the things our district did is purchase plexiglass for all of our students, all of our teachers, so that's something very unique for us," said Nicole Van WIlgen Moore, the principal at Anaheim Hills Elementary, where she says they had a smooth morning when the kids were dropped off on Monday.

"That's why we have a staggered start. So not only are we staggering by grade level throughout this week, we're also staggering our arrival and dismissal to ensure social distancing," she said.

She says they worked with teachers to make sure they were good to go in their classrooms and connected with parents to be sure all of their questions were answers.

"We held multiple parent orientations live with Q & A sessions, and then my weekly communications as well as our superintendent was very great at communicating with our families as well," she said.

By the end of the week, 10 of the 27 school districts in Orange County will be doing some type of in-person learning, whether it be full time or a hybrid model.

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On Tuesday, the Diocese of Orange resumed some form of in-person learning at all of its schools, including one of its most prestigious schools: Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana.

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