FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Broward County Public School students will head back to school on Wednesday morning.

When they do, the obvious difference is that every student will be back in-person for the first time since before the pandemic.

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“I am tremendously excited. There’s that energy when you have them here,” said Richard Connell, the library and media specialist at Manatee Bay Elementary School in Weston.

Connell said having students back at 100 percent in-person learning, means they can check out books from the library again.

“I’ve been getting emails already from students saying, ‘did you buy this book over the summer’,” he said.

On Wednesday, Broward public school students will be required to wear masks when indoors. There are some medical exemptions though, and students will be allowed to take off their masks when eating or outside.

Along with masks in the classroom, there is social distancing, frequent cleaning, and a protocol if a student gets sick.

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“If they are sick, they are immediately sent down to the clinic for an evaluation and they’re isolated,” said Manatee Bay Principal Heather Hedman-Devaughn. “If they have any kind of COVID symptoms at all, they call the parent, and there’s an isolation and COVID protocol that we follow.”

Hedman-Devaughn added if a student tests positive for COVID-19, contact tracing will be done. Any student who needs to be sent home to isolate will no longer have the option of virtual learning as they did during the 2020-2021 school year. Instead, Hedman-Devaughn said students will have access to their teacher’s lesson plans.

“I’m just so excited to have my class and be face-to-face with them,” said fifth grade gifted teacher Meryl Jefferson, who was putting the finishing touches on her classroom at Manatee Bay Elementary on Tuesday.

In her excitement, Jefferson added she’s a little nervous.

“We have an invisible enemy that we can’t see, we just have to be very careful,” she said.

On Tuesday at Manatee Bay, parents and students had the opportunity to meet their teachers before the first day. Parents Gladys Agreamonte and Robert DePalma said they’re ready for their kids, Daniela and Anthony, to get back into the classroom full-time.

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“We’re looking forward to them socializing with their friends, obviously with their masks and being safe,” said DePalma.

CBSMiami.com Team