AGAWAM, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The new school year started Monday for many students around western Mass.

Some of them grabbed their backpacks and headed out the door for school while others are learning right from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Agawam Public Schools is staggering which grades come back first to make sure each grade can adjust to hybrid learning.

Monday marked the first day of school for many districts across the state during the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s unlike anything people have seen before with some schools being fully remote while others are hybrid -- like the school district in Agawam.

“Today, the 14th, we have pre-K to grade 5 plus we have grade 7,” Agawam Mayor Bill Sapeeli said. “Now the reason we have that is because we have a middle school which is [grades] 5 and 6 and a junior high which is 7 and 8. Today, we are only bringing in the 5th graders in that middle school. We are leaving the 6th grade home for another week so that those 5th graders are new from the building won’t be intimidated.”

Sapelli said students in certain grades have a staggered opening for when they can head into the school.

Next week, on Sept. 21, students in grades 6 through 8 will be in the classroom.

The following week on Sept. 28, students in grades 10 through 12 will return to school.

About 20% of students in Agawam have chosen to be fully remote.

When the school district decided to have students come into the school two days a week, the rest learning from home, the mayor said the district knew it could face challenges.

“What people have to remember is this is new to everybody,” he said. “We have never had this before. There is no playbook with this.”

In Easthampton, students had their first day of school Monday fully remote.

Western Mass News caught up with parent Juliette Mooers who said her two children had mixed emotions for their first day of school learning from home.

“I had to force smiles for my back to school picture,” she said. “My daughter was all smiley, but my 6th grader -- he was kind of sad that he doesn’t get to see his buddies in person.”

Mooers said although learning at home is an adjustment, the first day of school went well.

“They have their little desk areas in their rooms and then we have lunch at home, then we take a break, and now I bring them to the art store and they have their little desks downstairs for the second half of the day,” she said.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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