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What to expect as San Diego Unified heads back to school on Monday

The state's second largest school district heads back to class on Monday.

SAN DIEGO — Thousands of San Diego Unified School District students headed back to school Monday for the first day of classes.

It was a busy Sunday for employees at Target in Clairemont. The store was packed with families shopping for back-to-school.  

“I’m feeling a little bit nervous, but I’m excited especially because we’ve been online for a long time,” said eighth-grader, Maya, as she was shopping. 

Ana Chavez and her daughter, Scarlett, were also back to school shopping. Scarlett is starting fifth grade.

“We’re excited,” said Chavez. “Ready to go, I guess.”

San Diego Unified School District announced Thursday an update to its mask-wearing policy. Students will now be required to wear masks outdoors at all times while they are on campus unless they are eating or during physical education.

"It seems fine to me to keep everybody safe,” said Scarlett.

"I’m getting kind of tired of wearing these masks,” said Maya.

On Thursday, San Diego Unified School District Board President, Richard Barrera, said the district is following California guidelines for reopening schools, and that teachers will also have to follow the guidelines, like mask-wearing.

“Adults will be wearing masks all day,” said Barrera over Zoom. 

However, some parents believe it’s up to parents to decide if their child wears a mask to school, not a health department or school district. 

“Kids need to be able to see each other’s smiles,” said Sharon McKeeman, the founder of California-based Let Them Breathe.

It’s not just masks. San Diego Unified said it upgraded its HVAC filtration system, added handwashing stations, and has increased its cleaning practices. The district is also tracking cases.

”Whatever the school and the district says to do, we must follow for their protection,” said Chavez.

Another student getting ready to start second grade is Carter. He’s even familiar with the safety protocols.

”We have to social distance,” said Carter with his mom on Sunday.

While Carter is back in school, the district said families have an option to enroll in a new online “Virtual Academy” for the 2021-22 school year.

You can read more about the World Health Organization’s insights for children of different ages wearing masks here. For the CDC's guidance on COVID-19 prevention in K-12 schools, click here.

WATCH RELATED: San Diego Unified to require masks outdoors 

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