High schoolers across the Bay State returned to the classroom Monday for the first time since 2020.

(WGGB/WSHM) -- High schoolers across the Bay State returned to the classroom Monday for the first time since 2020.

“I was actually very excited to come here because obviously, I had some teachers that have had some friendships with…you know, I came back, they saw me, and we talked for a little, caught up on some things,” said Jerbin Garcia Diaz, a junior at Springfield Central High School.

It was a big day for high school students across Massachusetts. For those at Springfield Central High School, it’s been more than a year since they’ve been in a classroom with their peers.

Western Mass News spoke with Garcia Diaz, who is a part of Central's ROTC program. He said the best part of being back in school is having the chance to socialize again.

“Definitely seeing everyone and being able to work together and try to finish school together,” Garcia Diaz added.

Last month, the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education mandated all high school students return to full-time in-person learning by Monday, May 17. Schools, of course, are operating with all necessary COVID-19 safety precautions, including mask wearing and social distancing.

“It’s just nice to put a face with a name and be able to hopefully have then end the school year on a positive note,” said Tad Tokarz, principal at Springfield Central High School.

Math teacher and track coach James Bermudez told Western Mass News that teaching his students from home was challenging and he's excited for things to feel normal again.

“It’s just…it’s been weird. I’m in my dining room, working from my dining room table with a 32” TV, a laptop, and an iPad talking to kids on a computer screen and it’s just like a completely different experience,” Bermudez noted.

That’s why students are hoping that in-person learning is here to stay.

“I hope everyone at least gets to try and see how it is going to in-person school because it’s definitely weird. It’s definitely a difference remote learning and in-person school…I do want to go to college, I do want to get my diploma. and go on from life,” Garcia Diaz noted.

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