BOYD COUNTY, KY (WOWK) – Boyd County Public Schools are officially back in the classroom and students and teachers were nothing but smiles as they returned to the classroom.

“Last first day,” said Boyd County High School senior, Jake Biggs. “Just have fun, enjoy it and don’t take anything for granted because you never know if it’s going to get taken.”

Students and staff said they are grateful to finally be able to return to an in-person learning experience.

“Just socially they miss that part so much,” said Boyd County High School principal, Tom Holbrook. “High school is such a big part of their social development and growth. Seeing friends and just the smiles – it helps their confidence, it helps their attitude and just their overall well-being.

Boyd County High School has around 900 students returning to the classroom and this school year looks a lot different. All students and staff are required to wear a mask and classroom sizes will be reduced.

“I think if everybody wears a mask and we just follow the guidelines, we will be good,” said Boyd County High School senior, Hannah Totton.

Some students said they don’t mind the mask as long as they can have the traditional face-to-face classroom experience.

“I don’t mind it as long as we can stay in person,” said Biggs. “I mean its not that big of a deal if we can go to school, because online you can’t see each other, you’re just locked up by yourself. I think I would rather wear a mask and go to school than stay home.”

In comparison to virtual learning, students said in-person learning is overall a better social and educational experience for them.

“It’s really nice to be back because I enjoy being able to talk face to face with my teachers,” said Totton. “Being able to see them and ask questions in person and get extra help if needed is a lot of help, as well as seeing my friends.”

The teachers said these students have been through a lot and they deserve to have a hands on face-to-face experience.

“One of the things we learned I think from online learning was that kids really need teacher interaction and they really need peer interaction,” said Boyd County High School teacher Mary Leigh Lewis. “You know that friendship and relationship building is a really important piece of education.”

The school said their goal is to stay in-person the entire school year, but they are prepared to make the transition if needed.