DULUTH, MN -- Next week, Duluth students will head back to in-person learning for the first time in nearly a year and a half.
The Duluth School Board ruled that masks must be worn by students and staff.
This is especially important at schools like Homecroft Elementary, where the students are not eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Homecroft's Principal, Tom Cawcutt says the district is working closely with St. Louis County and the Minnesota Department of Health to follow health protocols.
Cawcutt says if a student has COVID symptoms, they will be sent home to quarantine.
"If students are wearing masks at school and if there's a positive case in the class, the other students are not going to need to quarantine, which is a significant change from last year," he said.
"In the past, we would require an entire class or group of kids to quarantine. This year, it will essentially be the family group or student that has symptoms or tested positive."
The school will be spacing desks further apart and keeping students in pods at lunch and recess to reduce transmission.
First-grade teacher, Lisa Lochner, says she's excited to be back in class.
She recognizes it could be tough to get kids back on track after last year, but they have a plan.
"We're adopting a new social and emotional learning plan this year, which I'm really excited about. I think it will help us talk about feelings, how we're feeling about school, how we're feeling about being back, making new friends, seeing faces we haven't seen before," Lochner said.
Lochner says as we head back to school, communication is key.
If parents have any questions or concerns, the teachers are available and willing to find an answer.
For more details on the Safe Learning Plan for Duluth Public Schools, click here.