Summer break has officially ended for thousands of kids in the South Bay as they returned to class on Wednesday.
Both the Chula Vista Elementary (CVESD) and Sweetwater Union High School Districts (SUHSD) welcomed students back to their campuses – with face masks optional for many.
Although they are not required for CVESD, masks are strongly encouraged as COVID-19 cases continue to uptick in the county. As for SUHSD, the district recommends that vaccinated staff and students wear a mask while indoors and says unvaccinated staff and adult visitors must wear them indoors.
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Despite the guidance, some students opted not to wear a facial covering while others decided to mask up.
Two young students told NBC 7 they were relieved to not have to wear any masks for class.
“I feel comfortable because I can breathe in fresh air more and there’s not hot air just blowing in my face,” one Hedenkamp Elementary School student said.
Students at the school buzzed with excitement upon their return to class as they were greeted with balloons, photo ops and warm welcomes.
“It was just so great to be able to welcome the families back to feel kind of that pre-pandemic energy,” said principal Erin Williamson. “There’s just a synergy that exists when we’re able to all be together as a community.”
The return to school comes on the heels of San Diego Unified School District’s (SDUSD) decision to reintroduce its mask mandate for the remainder of the summer session. As California’s second-largest school district, SDUSD said it is following the Center for Disease and Control Prevention’s (CDC) guidance.
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Part of that guidance was placing the county under the CDC’s high COVID-19 transmission level due to an increase in virus cases.
Ahead of Wednesday’s big return, CVESD handed out nearly 30,000 at-home coronavirus tests and asked that all students and staff take one before returning to campus.